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MestmorelanU Coition 

THE WRITINGS OF 
MRS HUMPHRY WARD 

WITH INTRODUCTIONS BY THE AUTHOR 
VOLUME XIV 



Mrs. Ward in 1903 



THE WRITINGS OF 

MRS HUMPHRY WARD 

THE TESTING OF 
DIANA MALLORY 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
C&e EtteretSe }3rrB8 

1911 



COPYRIGHT, 1907, 1908, BY HARPER & BROTHERS 
COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



V, IH 

;-V>. 
NOV161966 




113941 9 



TO 
MY KIND HOSTS BEYOND THE ATLANTIC 

FROM 

A GRATEFUL TRAVELLER 



JULY, 1908 



NOTES ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS 
MRS. WARD IN 1903 Frontispiece 

From a photograph by H. Walter Barnett, London. 

THE VILLAGE CHURCH 16 

In Aldbury, not far from Stocks. 

STOCKS, MRS. WARD'S COUNTRY HOME ... 124 

In a general way the scenes of 'Diana Mallory' were 
taken from this vicinity. 

THE HALL, STOCKS 154 

MRS. WARD'S STUDY, STOCKS 188 

THE LIME- WALK, STOCKS , . . . . . . . 218 

'They were walking along a narrow avenue of tall 
limes which skirted the Beechcote lands, and took them 
past the house. Above their heads the trees met in a 
brown-and-purple tracery of boughs, and on their right, 
through the branches, they saw a pale full moon, thron- 
ing it in a silver sky.' 

Assist 356 

' There at the end of the long white road, blazing on the 
mountain-side, terrace upon terrace, arch upon arch, 
rose the majestic pile of buildings which bears the name 
of St. Francis.' From a photograph by Alinari. 

THE GARDEN, STOCKS 462 

' The radiant scented garden, with its massed roses and 
delphiniums, its tangle of poppy and lupine.' 

All of the illustrations in this volume are photogravures, and 
except where otherwise stated, are from photographs taken espe- 
cially for this edition. 



INTRODUCTION 

DIANA MALLORY was not founded on any of the well- 
known anecdotes of political or social life. A 'true 
story ' did indeed suggest the situation, but as I look 
back on the book I can hardly recognise the original 
hint from which it grew. Diana is the instinctive Con- 
servative among women, just as Marcella is the in- 
stinctive Liberal. The contrast between her uncon- 
scious, unreasoned but not therefore unreasonable 
acceptance of the older traditions and standards 
of English life; between her inherited conception of 
the woman as the sheltered, ministering being, loving 
without any thought of self, and gladly submitting to 
the protection of the man she loves, and her real and 
tragic position, as nakedly marked out from other 
women by the inheritance of a criminal ancestry, and 
deserted by her lover because of facts for which she 
has no responsibility: this is what the book tries to 
convey. Diana, of all women, should have lived the 
happy, clinging, guarded life. Her mother's crime, of 
which at the outset of the story she knows nothing, 
strips the natural halo from her youth, the natural 
softness from her fate, divides her from her lover, and 
forces her to stand and endure alone. She is no tragic 
heroine, however, and she does nothing tragical. She 
tames and disciplines her heart, as best she can, by 
means of the 'daily round, the common task'; and 
when misfortune and pain come to the man who has 

t i 



INTRODUCTION 

basely forsaken her, without doubt or hesitation, fol- 
lowing the mere cry of the heart, she goes back to him, 
and gives him her life. His unworthiness is of no avail 
against her impulse. Such a woman does not take back 
her love, and pity trebles it. 

That Marsham is a poor creature is only too evident 
to the spectators of such a story. But they will not 
persuade or hold back the Dianas of the world. And 
would the world be a better place if they could? 

The Assisi chapters record the impression of a spring 
visit to the Umbrian hill city in May, 1907; and, for 
the rest, the scenery of the book is the scenery of the 
Chilterns, though of a more easterly portion of them 
than that described in 'Marcella/ The lime-walk, and 
the encircling down, the church-tower, and the beech- 
woods, are all the familiar and actual companions of 
a writer's day. But the village and its inhabitants, 
gentle and simple, belong to 'Brookshire/ and to 
dream. 

MARY A. WARD. 



PART I 



' Action is transitory a step, a blow, 

The motion of a muscle this way or that 

T is done, and in the after-vacancy 

We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed : 

Suffering is permanent, obscure, and dark, 

And shares the nature of infinity.' 



THE 
TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

CHAPTER I 

THE clock in the tower of the village church had just 
struck the quarter. In the southeast a pale dawn light 
was beginning to show above the curving hollow of the 
down wherein the village lay enfolded ; but the face of 
the down itself was still in darkness. Further to the 
south, in a stretch of clear night sky hardly touched by 
the mounting dawn, Venus shone enthroned, so large 
and brilliant, so near to earth and the spectator, that 
she held, she pervaded the whole dusky scene, the 
shadowed fields and wintry woods, as though she were 
their very soul and voice. 

'The Star of Bethlehem! and Christmas Day!' 
Diana Mall or y had just drawn back the curtain of 
her bedroom. Her voice, as she murmured the words, 
was full of a joyous delight; eagerness and yearning 
expressed themselves in her bending attitude, her 
parted lips, and eyes intent upon the star. 

The panelled room behind her was dimly lit by a 
solitary candle, just kindled. The faint dawn in front, 
the flickering candlelight behind, illumined Diana's 
tall figure, wrapped in a white dressing-gown, her 
small head and slender neck, the tumbling masses of 
her dark hair, and the hand holding the curtain. It 
was a kind and poetic light ; but her youth and grace 
needed no softening. 

I 3 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

After the striking of the quarter, the church-bell 
began to ring, with a gentle yet insistent note which 
gradually filled the hollows of the village, and echoed 
along the side of the down. Once or twice the sound 
was effaced by the rush and roar of a distant train; 
and once the call of an owl from a wood, a call melan- 
choly and prolonged, was raised as though in rivalry. 
But the bell held Diana's strained ear throughout its 
course, till its mild clangour passed into the deeper 
note of the clock striking the hour, and then all sounds 
alike died into a profound yet listening silence. 

'Eight o'clock! That was for early service/ she 
thought; and there flashed into her mind an image 
of the old parish church, dimly lit for the Christmas 
Eucharist, its walls and pillars decorated with ivy and 
holly, yet austere and cold through all its adornings, 
with its bare walls and pale windows. She shivered a 
little, for her youth had been accustomed to churches 
all colour and lights and furnishings churches of 
another type and faith. But instantly some warm 
leaping instinct met the shrinking, and overpowered 
it. She smote her hands together. 

'England ! England ! my own, own country !' 

She dropped upon the window-seat, half -laughing, 
yet the tears in her eyes. And there, with her face 
pressed against the glass, she waited while the dawn 
stole upon the night, while in the park the trees 
emerged upon the grass white with rime, while on the 
face of the down thickets and paths became slowly 
visible, while the first wreaths of smoke began to curl 
and hover in the frosty air. 

Suddenly, on a path which climbed the hillside till 
t 4 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

it was lost in the beech wood which crowned the sum- 
mit, she saw a flock of sheep, and behind them a shep- 
herd boy running from side to side. At the sight, her 
eyes kindled again. 'Nothing changes/ she thought, 

'in this country life! On the morning of Charles Fs 
execution in the winters and springs when Eliza- 
beth was queen while Becket lay dead on Canter- 
bury steps when Harold was on his way to Senlac - 
that hill, that path were there sheep were climbing 
it, and shepherds were herding them. It has been so 
since England began it will be so when I am dead. 
We are only shadows that pass. But England lives 
always always and shall live ! ' 

And still, in a trance of feeling, she feasted her eyes 
on the quiet country scene. 

The old house which Diana Mallory had just begun 
to inhabit stood upon an upland, but it was an upland 
so surrounded by hills to north and east and south that 
it seemed rather a close-girt valley, leaned over and 
sheltered by the downs. Pastures studded with trees 
sloped away from the house on all sides; the village 
was hidden from it by boundary woods; only the 
church-tower emerged. From the deep oriel window 
where she sat Diana could see a projecting wing of the 
house itself, its mellowed red brick, its Jacobean win- 
dows and roof. She could see also a corner of the moat 
with its running stream, a moat much older than the 
building it encircled, and beneath her eyes lay a small 
formal garden planned in the days of John Evelyn 

- with its fountain and its sundial, and its beds in 
arabesque. The cold light of December lay upon it 
all ; there was no special beauty in the landscape, and 

[ 5 ] 



THE 'TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

no magnificence in the house or its surroundings. But 
every detail of what she saw pleased the girl's taste, 
and satisfied her heart. All the while she was compar- 
ing it with other scenes and another landscape, amid 
which she had lived till now a monotonous blue sea, 
mountains scorched and crumbled by the sun, dry 
palms in hot gardens, roads choked with dust and 
tormented with a plague of motor-cars, white villas 
crowded among high walls, a wilderness of hotels, and 
everywhere a chattering, unlovely crowd. 

'Thank goodness! that's done with,' she thought 
only to fall into a sudden remorse. ' Papa papa ! 
if you were only here too ! ' 

She pressed her hands to her eyes, which were moist 
with sudden tears. But the happiness in her heart 
overcame the pang, sharp and real as it was. Oh ! how 
blessed to have done with the Riviera, and its hybrid, 
empty life, for good and all ! how blessed even< to 
have done with the Alps and Italy ! how blessed, 
above all, to have come home! home into the heart 
of this English land warm mother-heart, into which 
she, stranger and orphan, might creep and be at rest. 

The eloquence of her own thoughts possessed her. 
They flowed on in a warm, mute rhetoric, till suddenly 
the Comic Spirit was there, and patriotic rapture began 
to see itself. She, the wanderer, the exile, what did 
she know of England or England of her? What 
did she know of this village even, this valley in which 
she had pitched her tent? She had taken an old house, 
because it had pleased her fancy, because it had Tudor 
gables, pretty panelling, and a sundial. But what 
natural link had she with it, or with these peasants 

[ 6 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and countrymen? She had no true roots here. What 
she had done was mere whim and caprice. She was an 
alien, like anybody else like the new men and prowl- 
ing millionaires, who bought old English properties, 
moved thereto by a feeling which was none the less 
snobbish because it was also sentimental. 
. She drew herself up rebelling hotly yet not 
seeing how to disentangle herself from these associates. 
And she was still struggling to put herself back in the 
romantic mood, and to see herself and her experiment 
anew in the romantic light, when her maid knocked 
at the door, and distraction entered with letters, and 
a cup of tea. 

An hour later Miss Mallory left her room behind her, 
and went tripping down the broad oak staircase of 
Beechcote Manor. 

By this time romance was uppermost again, and 
self -congratulation. She was young just twenty- 
two ; she was she knew it agreeable to look upon ; 
she had as much money as any reasonable woman need 
want ; she had already seen a great deal of the world 
outside England ; and she had fallen headlong in love 
with this charming old house, and had now, in spite of 
various difficulties, managed to possess herself of it, 
and plant her life in it. Full of ghosts it might be ; but 
she was its living mistress henceforth ; nor was it either 
ridiculous or snobbish that she should love it and exult 
in it quite the contrary. And she paused on the 
slippery stairs, to admire the old panelled hall below, 
the play of wintry sunlight on the oaken surfaces she 
herself had rescued from desecrating paint, and the 

[ 7 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

effect of some old Persian rugs, which had only arrived 
from London the night before, on the dark polished 
boards. For Diana, there were two joys connected 
with the old house : the joy of entering in, a stranger 
and conqueror, on its guarded and matured beauty, 
and the joy of adding to that beauty by a deft modern- 
ness. Very deft, and tender, and skilful it must be.. 
But no one could say that time-worn Persian rugs, 
with their iridescent blue and greens and rose-reds - 
or old Italian damask and cut-velvet from Genoa, or 
Florence, or Venice were out of harmony with the 
charming Jacobean rooms. It was the horrible furni- 
ture of the Vavasours, the ancestral possessors of the 
place, which had been an offence and a disfigurement. 
In moving it out and replacing it, Diana felt that she 
had become the spiritual child of the old house, in 
spite of her alien blood. There is a kinship not of the 
flesh ; and it thrilled all through her. 

But just as her pause of daily homage to the place in 
which she found herself was over, and she was about to 
run down the remaining stairs to the dining-room, a 
new thought delayed her for a moment by the staircase 
window the thought of a lady who would no doubt 
be waiting for her at the breakfast-table. 

Mrs. Colwood, Miss Mallory's new chaperon and 
companion, had arrived the night before, on Christmas 
Eve. She had appeared just in time for dinner, and the 
two ladies had spent the evening together. Diana's 
first impressions had been pleasant yes, certainly, 
pleasant; though Mrs. Colwood had been shy, and 
Diana still more so. There could be no question but 
that Mrs. Colwood was refined, intelligent, and attract- 

[ 8 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ive. Her gentle, almost childish looks appealed for 
her. So did her deep black, and the story which ex- 
plained it. Diana had heard of her from a friend in 
Rome, where Mrs. Colwood 's husband, a young Indian 
civil servant, had died of fever and lung mischief, on 
his way to England for a long sick-leave and where 
the little widow had touched the hearts of all who 
came in contact with her. 

Diana thought, with one of her ready compunctions, 
that she had not been expansive enough the night 
before. She ran downstairs, determined to make Mrs. 
Colwood feel at home at once. 

When she entered the dining-room the new compan- 
ion was standing beside the window looking out upon 
the formal garden and the lawn beyond it. Her atti- 
tude was a little drooping, and as she turned to greet 
her hostess and employer, Diana's quick eyes seemed 
to perceive a trace of recent tears on the small face. 
The girl was deeply touched, though she made no sign. 
Poor little thing ! A widow, and childless, in a strange 
place. 

Mrs. Colwood, however, showed no further melan- 
choly. She was full of admiration for the beauty of 
the frosty morning, the trees touched with rime, the 
browns and purples of the distant woods. She spoke 
shyly but winningly of the comfort of her room, and 
the thoughtfulness with which Miss Mallory had ar- 
ranged it ; she could not say enough of the picturesque- 
ness of the house. Yet there was nothing fulsome in 
her praise. She had the gift which makes the saying 
of sweet and flattering things appear the merest sim- 
plicity. They escaped her whether she would or no 

[ 9 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

that at least was the impression ; and Diana found it 
agreeable. So agreeable that before they had been ten 
minutes at table Miss Mallory, in response, was con- 
scious on her own part of an unusually strong wish to 
please her new companion to make a good effect. 
Diana, indeed, was naturally governed by the wish to 
please. She desired above all things to be liked that 
is, if she could not be loved. Mrs. Colwood brought 
with her a warm and favouring atmosphere. Diana 
unfolded. 

In the course of this first exploratory conversation, 
it appeared that the two ladies had had many experi- 
ences in common. Mrs. Colwood had been two years, 
her two short years of married life, in India ; Diana 
had travelled therewith her father. Also, as a girl, Mrs. 
Colwood had spent a winter at Cannes, and another 
at Santa Margherita. Diana expressed with vehemence 
her weariness of the Riviera; but the fact that Mrs. 
Colwood differed from her led to all the more conversa- 
tion. 

'My father would never come home/ sighed Diana. 
'He hated the English climate, even in summer. 
Every year I used to beg him to let us go to England. 
But he never would. We lived abroad, first, I suppose, 
for his health, and then I can't explain it. Perhaps 
he thought he had been so long away he would find no 
old friends left. And indeed so many of them had died. 
But whenever I talked of it he began to look old and 
ill. So I never could press it never!' 

The girl's voice fell to a lower note musical, and 
full of memory. Mrs. Colwood noticed the quality of it. 

[10 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Of course if my mother had lived/ said Diana, in 
the same tone, 'it would have been different/ 

'But she died when you were a child?' 

'Eighteen years ago. I can just remember it. We 
were in London then. Afterwards father took me 
abroad, and we never came back. Oh ! the waste of all 
those years!' 

'Waste?' Mrs. Col wood probed the phrase a little. 

Diana insisted, first with warmth, and then with 
an eloquence that startled her companion, that for an 
Englishwoman to be brought up outside England, 
away from country and countrymen, was to waste and 
forego a hundred precious things that might have been 
gathered up. ' I used to be ashamed when I talked to 
English people. Not that we saw many. We lived for 
years and years at a little villa near Rapallo, and in the 
summer we used to go up into the mountains, away 
from everybody. But after we came back from a long 
tour, we lived for a time at an hotel in Mentone our 
own little house was let and I used to talk to people 
there though papa never liked making friends. And 
I made ridiculous mistakes about English things 
and they'd laugh. But one can't know unless one 
has lived has breathed in a country, from one's birth. 
That's what I've lost.' 

Mrs. Col wood demurred. 

'Think of the people who wish they had grown 
up without ever reading or hearing about the Bible, 
so that they might read it for the first time, when 
they could really understand it. You feel England 
all the more intensely now because you come fresh 
to her/ 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana sprang up, with a change of face half laugh, 
half frown. 

'Yes, I feel her! Above all, I feel her enemies!' 

She let in her dog, a fine collie, who was scratching 
at the door. As she stood before the fire, holding up 
a biscuit for him to jump at, she turned a red and 
conscious face towards her companion. The fire in the 
eyes, the smile on the lip seemed to say: 

'There! now we have come to it. This is my 
passion my hobby this is me! 1 

1 Her enemies ! You are political ? ' 

'Desperately!' 

'A Tory?' 

' Fanatical. But that 's only part of it. " What should 
they know of England, that only England know!" 

Miss Mallory threw back her head with a gesture 
that became it. 

'Ah, I see an Imperialist?' 

Diana nodded, smiling. She had seated herself in a 
chair by the fireside. Her dog's head was on her knees, 
and one of her slender hands rested on the black and 
tan. Mrs. Colwood admired the picture. Miss Mallory's 
sloping shoulders and long waist were well shown by 
her simple dress of black and closely fitting serge. Her 
head, crowned and piled with curly black hair, carried 
itself with an amazing self-possession and pride, which 
was yet all feminine. This young woman might talk 
politics, thought her new friend ; no male man would 
call her prater, while she bore herself with that air. 
Her eyes the chaperon noticed it for the first time 
- owed some of their remarkable intensity, no doubt, 
to short sight. They were large, finely coloured and 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

thickly fringed, but their slightly veiled concentration 
suggested an habitual, though quite unconscious, 
struggle to see with that clearness which the mind 
behind demanded of them. The complexion was a 
clear brunette, the cheeks rosy ; the nose was slightly 
tilted, the mouth fresh and beautiful though large; 
and the face of a lovely oval. Altogether, an aspect of 
rich and glowing youth : no perfect beauty ; but some- 
thing arresting, ardent charged, perhaps over- 
charged, with personality. Mrs. Colwood said to her- 
self that life at Beechcote would be no stagnant pool. 
While they lingered in the drawing-room before 
church, she kept Diana talking. It seemed that Miss 
Mallory had seen Egypt, India, and Canada, in the 
course of her last two years of life with her father. 
Their travels had spread over more than a year ; and 
Diana had brought Mr. Mallory back to the Riviera, 
only, it appeared, to die, after some eight months of 
illness. But in securing to her that year of travel, her 
father had bestowed his last and best gift upon her. 
Aided by his affection, and stimulated by his know- 
ledge, her mind and character had rapidly developed. 
And, as through a natural outlet, all her starved de- 
votion for the England she had never known, had spent 
itself upon the Englands she found beyond the seas ; 
upon the hardworked soldiers and civilians in lonely 
Indian stations, upon the captains of English ships, 
upon the pioneers of Canadian fields and railways; 
upon England, in fact, as the arbiter of Oriental faiths 
the wrestler with the desert the mother and 
maker of new states. A passion for the work of her 
race beyond these narrow seas a passion of sym- 
[ 13 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

pathy, which was also a passion of antagonism, since 
every phase of that work, according to Miss Mallory, 
had been dogged by the hate and calumny of base 
minds expressed itself through her charming mouth, 
with a quite astonishing fluency. Mrs. Colwood's 
mind moved uneasily. She had expected an orphan 
girl, ignorant of the world, whom she might mother, 
and perhaps mould. She found a young Egeria, talk- 
ing politics with raised colour and a throbbing voice, 
as other girls might talk of lovers or chiffons. Egeria's 
companion secretly and with some alarm reviewed her 
own equipment in these directions. Miss Mallory dis- 
coursed of India. Mrs. Colwood had lived in it. But 
her husband had entered the Indian Civil Service, 
simply in order that he might have money enough to 
marry her. And during their short time together, they 
had probably been more keenly alive to the deprecia- 
tion of the rupee than to ideas of England's imperial 
mission. But Herbert had done his duty, of course he 
had. Once or twice as Miss Mallory talked, the little 
widow's eyes filled with tears, again unseen. The 
Indian names Diana threw so proudly into air were, 
for her companion, symbols of heartbreak and death. 
But she played her part ; and her comments and inter- 
jections were all that was necessary to keep the talk 
flowing. 

In the midst of it voices were suddenly heard out- 
side. Diana started. 

'Carols! 7 she said, with flushing cheeks. 'The first 
time I have heard them in England itself!' 

She flew to the hall, and threw the door open. A 
handful of children appeared shouting 'Good King 
[ 14 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Wenceslas' in a hideous variety of keys. Miss Mallory 
heard them with enthusiasm ; then turned to the butler 
behind her. 

' Give them a shilling, please, Brown/ 

A quick change passed over the countenance of the 
man addressed. 

'Lady Emily, ma'am, never gave more than three- 
pence/ 

This stately person had formerly served the Vava- 
sours, and was much inclined to let his present mis- 
tress know it. 

Diana looked disappointed, but submissive. 

' Oh, very well, Brown I don't want to alter any 
of the old ways. But I hear the choir will come up to- 
night. Now they must have five shillings and sup- 
per, please, Brown/ 

Brown drew himself up a little more stiffly. 

' Lady Emily always gave 'em supper, ma'am, but, 
begging your pardon, she did n't hold at all with 
giving 'em money.' 

'Oh, I don't care!' said Miss Mallory, hastily. 'I'm 
sure they'll like it, Brown! Five shillings, please.' 

Brown withdrew, and Diana, with a laughing face 
and her hands over her ears, to mitigate the farewell 
bawling of the children, turned to Mrs. Colwood, with 
an invitation to dress for church. 

'The first time for me,' she explained. ' I have been 
coming up and down, for a month or more, two or 
three days at a time, to see to the furnishing. But now 
I am at home!' 

The Christmas service in the parish church was 
[ 15 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

agreeable enough. The Beechcote pew was at the 
back of the church, and as the new mistress of the old 
house entered and walked down the aisle, she drew the 
eyes of a large congregation of rustics and small shop- 
keepers. Diana moved in a kind of happy absorption, 
glancing gently from side to side. This gathering of 
villagers was to her representative of a spiritual and 
national fellowship to which she came now to be joined. 
The old church, wreathed in ivy and holly ; the tombs 
in the southern aisle; the loaves standing near the 
porch for distribution after service, in accordance with 
an old benefaction ; the fragments of fifteenth-century 
glass in the windows ; the school-children to her left ; 
the singing, the prayers, the sermon found her in 
a welcoming, a childlike mood. ' She knelt, she sang, 
she listened, like one undergoing initiation, with a 
tender aspiring light in her eyes, and an eager mobility 
of expression. 

Mrs. Colwood was more critical. The clergyman who 
preached the sermon did not, in fact, please her at 
all. He was a thin High Churchman, with an oblong 
face and head, narrow shoulders, and a spare frame. 
He wore spectacles, and his voice was disagreeably 
pitched. His sermon~was nevertheless remarkable. A 
bare yet penetrating style; a stern view of life; the 
voice of a prophet, and apparently the views of a 
Socialist all these he possessed. None of them, it 
might have been thought, were especially fitted to cap- 
ture either the female or the rustic mind. Yet it could 
not be denied that the congregation was unusually 
good for a village church ; and by the involuntary sigh 
which Miss Mallory gave as the sermon ended, Mrs. 
[ 16 ] 



The Village Church 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Colwood was able to gauge the profound and docile 
attention with which one at least had listened to it. 

After church there was much lingering in the church- 
yard for the exchange of Christmas greetings. Mrs. 
Colwood found herself introduced to the Vicar, Mr. 
La very; to a couple of maiden ladies of the name of 
Bertram, who seemed to have a good deal to do with 
the Vicar, and with the Church affairs of the village; 
and to an elderly couple, Doctor and Mrs. Roughsedge, 
white-haired, courteous, and kind, who were accom- 
panied by a soldier son, in whom it was evident they 
took a boundless pride. The young man, of a hand- 
some and open countenance, looked at Miss Mallory as 
much as good manners allowed. She, however, had 
eyes for no one but the Vicar, with whom she started, 
t$te-d-t$te, in the direction of the Vicarage. 

Mrs. Colwood followed, shyly making acquaintance 
with the Roughsedges, and the elder Miss Bertram. 
That lady was tall, fair, and faded ; she had a sharp, 
handsome nose, and a high forehead; and her eyes, 
which hardly ever met those of the person with whom 
she talked, gave the impression of a soul preoccupied, 
with few or none of the ordinary human curiosities. 

Mrs. Roughsedge, on the other hand, was most 
human, motherly, and inquisitive. She wore two curls 
on either side of her face held by small combs, a large 
bonnet, and an ample cloak. It was clear that what- 
ever adoration she could spare from her husband was 
lavished on her son. But there was still enough good- 
temper and good-will left to overflow upon the rest 
of mankind. She perceived in a moment that Mrs. 
Colwood was the new 'companion' to the heiress, 
[ 17 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

that she was a widow, and sad in spite of her cheer- 
fulness. 

'Now I hope Miss Mallory is going to like us!' she 
said, with a touch of confidential good-humour, as 
she drew Mrs. Colwood a little behind the others. ' We 
are all in love with her already. But she must be 
patient with us. We're very humdrum folk!' 

Mrs. Colwood could only say that Miss Mallory 
seemed to be in love with everything the house, the 
church, the village, and the neighbours. Mrs. Rough- 
sedge shook her grey curls, smiling, as she replied that 
this was no doubt partly due to novelty. After her 
long residence abroad, Miss Mallory was it was very 
evident glad to come home. Poor thing she 
must have known a great deal of trouble an only 
child, and no mother! 'Well, I'm sure if there's any- 
thing we can do - 

Mrs. Roughsedge nodded cheerfully towards her 
husband and son in front. The gesture awakened a 
certain natural reserve in Mrs. Colwood, followed by 
a quick feeling of amusement with herself that she 
should so soon have developed the instinct of the 
watch-dog. But it was not to be denied that the new 
mistress of Beechcote was well endowed, as single 
women go. Fond mothers with marriageable sons 
might require some handling. 

But Mrs. Roughsedge 's simple kindness soon baffled 
distrust. And Mrs. Colwood was beginning to talk 
freely, when suddenly the Vicar and Miss Mallory in 
front came to a stop. The way to the Vicarage lay 
along a side road. The Roughsedges also, who had 
walked so far for sociability's sake, must return to the 
[ 18 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

village and early dinner. The party broke up. Miss 
Mallory, as she made her good-byes, appeared a little 
flushed and discomposed. But the unconscious fire in 
her glance, and the vigour of her carriage, did but add 
to her good looks. Captain Roughsedge, as he touched 
her hand, asked whether he should find her at home 
that afternoon if he called, and Diana absently said 
yes. 

'What a strange impracticable man!' cried Miss 
Mallory hotly, as the ladies turned into the Beechcote 
drive. ' It is really a misfortune to find a man of such 
opinions in this place/ 

'The Vicar?' said Mrs. Colwood, bewildered. 

'A Little Englander! a Socialist! And so rude 
too ! I asked him to let me help him with his poor 
and he threw back my offers in my face. What they 
wanted, he said, was not charity, but justice. And 
justice apparently means cutting up the property of 
the rich, and giving it to the poor. Is it my fault if the 
Vavasours neglected their cottages? I just mentioned 
emigration, and he foamed ! I am sure he would give 
away the Colonies for a pinch of soap, and abolish the 
Army and Navy to-morrow/ 

Diana's face glowed with indignation with 
wounded feeling besides. Mrs. Colwood endeavoured to 
soothe her, but she remained grave and rather silent 
for some time. The flow of Christmas feeling and ro- 
mantic pleasure had been arrested, and the memory of 
a harsh personality haunted the day. In the afternoon, 
however, in the unpacking of various pretty knick- 
knacks, and in the putting away of books and papers, 
Diana recovered herself. She flitted about the house, 

[ 19 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

arranging her favourite books, hanging pictures, and 
disposing embroideries. The old walls glowed afresh 
under her hand, and from the combination of their 
antique beauty with her young taste, a home began to 
emerge, stamped with a woman's character and re- 
flecting her enthusiasms. As she assisted in the task, 
Mrs. Colwood learnt many things. She gathered that 
Miss Mallory read two or three languages, that she was 
passionately fond of French memoirs and the French 
classics, that her father had taught her Latin and 
German, and guided every phase of her education. 
Traces indeed of his poetic and scholarly temper were 
visible throughout his daughter's possessions so 
plainly, that at last as they came nearly to the end of 
the books, Diana's gaiety once more disappeared. She 
moved soberly and dreamily, as though the past re- 
turned upon her ; and once or twice Mrs. Colwood came 
upon her standing motionless, her finger in an open 
book, her eyes wandering absently through the case- 
ment windows to the distant wall of hill. Sometimes, 
as she bent over the books and packets she would say 
little things, or quote stories of her father, which 
seemed to show a pretty wish on her part to make the 
lady who was now to be her companion understand 
something of the feelings and memories on which her 
life was based. But there was dignity in it all, and 
besides, a fundamental awe and reserve. Mrs. Col- 
wood seemed to see that there were remembrances con- 
nected with her father far too poignant to be touched 
in speech. 

At tea-time Captain Roughsedge appeared. Mrs. 
Colwood's first impression of his good manners and 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

good looks was confirmed. But his conversation could 
not be said to flow: and in endeavouring to enter- 
tain him the two ladies fought a rather uphill fight. 
Then Diana discovered that he belonged to the Hun- 
dredth Rifles, whereupon the young lady disclosed 
a knowledge of the British Army, and its organisation, 
which struck her visitor as nothing short of astound- 
ing. He listened to her open-mouthed while she rattled 
on, mainly to fill up the gaps in his own remarks ; and 
when she paused, he bluntly complimented her on her 
information. 

' Oh, that was papa ! ' said Diana, with a smile and 
a sigh. 'He taught me all he could about the Army, 
though he himself had only been a Volunteer. There 
was an old "History of the British Army" I was 
brought up on. It was useful when we went to India 
because I knew so much about the regiments we came 
across/ 

This accomplishment of hers proved indeed a god- 
send ; the young man found his tongue ; and the visit 
ended much better than it began. 

As he said good-bye, he looked round the drawing- 
room in wonderment. 

'How you've altered it! The Vavasours made it 
hideous. But I Ve only been in this room twice before, 
though my people have lived here thirty years. We 
were never smart enough for Lady Emily.' 

He coloured as he spoke, and Diana suspected in him 
a memory of small past humiliations. Evidently he 
was sensitive as well as shy. 

'Hard work dear young man!' she said, with a 
smile, and a stretch, as the door closed upon him. ' But 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

after all " que j'aime k militaire ! " Now, shall we go 
back to work?' 

There were still some books to unpack. Presently 
Mrs. Colwood found herself helping to carry a small 
but heavy box of papers to the sitting-room which 
Diana had arranged for herself next to her bedroom. 
Mrs. Colwood noticed that before Diana asked her as- 
sistance she dismissed her new maid, who had been till 
then actively engaged in the unpacking. Miss Mallory 
herself unlocked the trunk in which the despatch-box 
had arrived, and took it out. The box had an old 
green baize covering which was much frayed and worn. 
Diana placed it on the floor of her bedroom, where Mrs. 
Colwood had been helping her in various unpackings, 
and went away for a minute to clear a space for it in 
the locked wall -cupboard to which it was to be con- 
signed. Her companion, left alone, happened to see 
that an old mended tear in the green baize had given 
way in Diana's handling of the box, and quite invol- 
untarily her eyes caught a brass plate on the morocco 
lid, which bore the words, 'Sparling papers/ Diana 
came back at the moment, and perceived the uncov- 
ered label. She flushed a little, hesitated, and then 
said, looking first at the label and then at Mrs. Col- 
wood : ' I think I should like you to know my name 
was not always Mallory. We were Sparlings but my 
father took the name of Mallory after my mother's 
death. It was his mother's name, and there was an old 
Mallory uncle who left him a property. I believe he 
was glad to change his name. He never spoke to me 
of any Sparling relations. He was an only child, and 
I always supposed his father must have been very 
[ 22 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

unkind to him and that they quarrelled. At any 
rate, he quite dropped the name, and never would let 
me speak of it. My mother had hardly any relations 
either only one sister who married and went to 
Barbadoes. So our old name was very soon forgotten. 
And, please' --she looked up appealingly -- 'now 
that I have told you, will you forget it too? It always 
seemed to hurt papa to hear it, and I never could bear 
to do or say anything that gave him pain/ 

She spoke with a sweet seriousness. Mrs. Colwood, 
who had been conscious of a slight shock of puzzled 
recollection, gave an answer which evidently pleased 
Diana, for the girl held out her hand and pressed that 
of her companion; then they carried the box to its 
place, and were leaving the room, when suddenly 
Diana, with a joyous exclamation, pounced on a book 
which was lying on the floor, tumbled among a dozen 
others recently unpacked. 

'Mr. Marsham's Rossetti! I am glad. Now I can 
face him ! ' 

She looked up all smiles. 

'Do you know that I am going to take you to a 
party next week? to the Marshams? They live near 
here at Tallyn Hall. They have asked us for two 
nights Thursday to Saturday. I hope you won't 
mind/ 

'Have I got a dress?' said Mrs. Colwood, anxiously. 

'Oh, that doesn't matter! not at the Marshams. 
I am glad!' repeated Diana, fondling the book 'If 
I really had lost it, it would have given him a horrid 
advantage ! ' 

'Who is Mr. Marsham?' 

[ 23 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'A gentleman we got to know at Rapallo,' said 
Diana, still smiling to herself. 'He and his mother 
were there last winter. Father and I quarrelled with 
him all day long. He is the worst Radical I ever met, 
but' 

'But? but agreeable?' 

' Oh yes/ said Diana, uncertainly, and Mrs. Colwood 
thought she coloured 'oh yes agreeable!' 

'And he lives near here?' 

' He is the Member for the division. Such a crew as 
we shall meet there ! ' Diana laughed out. ' I had better 
warn you. But they have been very kind. They called 
directly they knew I had taken the house. "They" 
means Mr. Oliver Marsham and his mother. I am glad 
I've found his book!' 

She went off embracing it. 

Mrs. Colwood was left with two impressions one 
sharp, the other vague. One was that Mr. Oliver 
Marsham might easily become a personage in the 
story of which she had just, as it were, turned the first 
leaf. The other was connected with the name on 
the despatch-box. Why did it haunt her? It had pro- 
duced a kind of indistinguishable echo in the brain, 
to which she could put no words which was none 
the less dreary ; like a voice of wailing from a far-off 
past. 



CHAPTER II 

DURING the days immediately following her arrival 
at Beechcote, Mrs. Colwood applied herself to a study 
of Miss Mallory and her surroundings none the less 
penetrating because the student was modest and her 
method unperceived. She divined a nature unworldly, 
impulsive, steeped, moreover, for all its spiritual and 
intellectual force, which was considerable, in a kind of 
sensuous romance much connected with concrete 
things and symbols, places, persons, emblems, or relics, 
any contact with which might at any time bring the 
colour to the girl's cheeks and the tears to her eyes. 
Honour personal or national the word was to 
Diana like a spark to dry leaves. Her whole nature 
flamed to it, and there were moments when she walked 
visibly transfigured in the glow of it. Her mind was 
rich, moreover, in the delicate, inchoate loves, the 
half-poetic, half-intellectual passions, the mystical 
yearnings and aspirations, which haunt a pure ex- 
panding youth. Such human beings, Mrs. Colwood 
reflected, are not generally made for happiness. But 
there were also in Diana signs both of practical ability 
and of a rare common sense. Would this last avail 
to protect her from her enthusiasms? Mrs. Colwood 
remembered a famous Frenchwoman of whom it was 
said : ' Her judgement is infallible her conduct one 
long mistake!' The little companion was already suf- 
ficiently attached to Miss Mallory to hope that in this 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

case a natural tact and balance might not be thrown 
away. 

As to suitors and falling in love, the natural accom- 
paniments of such a charming youth, Mrs. Colwood 
came across no traces of anything of the sort. During 
her journey with her father to India, Japan, and Amer- 
ica, Miss Mallory had indeed for the first time seen some- 
thing of society. But in the villa beside the Mediter- 
ranean it was evident that her life with her father had 
been one of complete seclusion. She and he had lived 
for each other. Books, sketching, long walks, a friendly 
interest in their peasant neighbours these had filled 
their time. 

It took, indeed, but a short time to discover in Miss 
Mallory a hunger for society which seemed to be the 
natural result of long starvation. With her neighbours 
the Roughsedges she was already on the friendliest 
terms. To Doctor Roughsedge, who was infirm, and 
often a prisoner to his library, she paid many small 
attentions which soon won the heart of an old student. 
She was in love with Mrs. Roughsedge's grey curls and 
motherly ways ; and would consult her about servants 
and tradesmen with an eager humility. She liked the 
son, it seemed, for the parents' sake, nor was it long 
before he was allowed at his own pressing request 
to help in hanging pictures and arranging books at 
Beechcote. A girl's manner with young men is always 
a matter of interest to older women. Mrs. Colwood 
thought that Diana's manner to the young soldier 
could not have been easily bettered. It was frank and 
gay with just that tinge of old-fashioned reserve 
which might be thought natural in a girl of gentle 
[ 26 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

breeding, brought up alone by a fastidious father. With 
all her impetuosity, indeed, there was about her some- 
thing markedly virginal and remote, which is com- 
moner, perhaps, in Irish than English women. Mrs. 
Colwood watched the effect of it on Captain Rough- 
sedge. After her third day of acquaintance with him, 
she said to herself : ' He will fall in love with her ! ' But 
she said it with compassion, and without troubling to 
speculate on the lady. Whereas, with regard to the 
Marsham visit, she already she could hardly have 
told why found herself full of curiosity. 

Meanwhile, in the few days which elapsed before 
that visit was due, Diana was much called on by the 
country-side. The girl restrained her restlessness, and 
sat at home, receiving everybody with a friendliness 
which might have been insipid but for its grace and 
spontaneity. She disliked no one, was bored by no one. 
The joy of her home-coming seemed to hallow them all. 
Even the sour Miss Bertrams could not annoy her ; she 
thought them sensible and clever; even the tiresome 
Mrs. Minchin of Minchin Hall, the 'gusher' of the 
county, who 'adored' all mankind and ill-treated her 
step-daughter, even she was dubbed 'very kind/ till 
Mrs. Roughsedge, next day, kindled a passion in the 
girl's eyes by some tales of the step-daughter. Mrs. 
Colwood wondered whether, indeed, she could be bored, 
as Mrs. Minchin had not achieved it. Those who talk 
easily and well, like Diana, are less keenly aware, she 
thought, of the platitudes of their neighbours. They 
are not defenceless, like the shy and the silent. 

Nevertheless, it was clear that if Diana welcomed 
the neighbours with pleasure she often saw them go 
[ 27 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

with relief. As soon as the house was clear of them, 
she would stand pensively by the fire, looking down 
into the blaze like one on whom a dream suddenly de- 
scends then would often call her dog, and go out 
alone, into the winter twilight. From these rambles she 
would return grave sometimes with reddened eyes. 
But at all times, as Mrs. Colwood soon began to realise, 
there was but a thin line of division between her 
gaiety and some inexplicable sadness, some unspoken 
grief, which seemed to rise upon her and overshadow 
her, like a cloud tangled in the woods of spring. Mrs. 
Colwood could only suppose that these times of silence 
and eclipse were connected in some way with her father 
and her loss of him. But whenever they occurred, Mrs. 
Colwood found her own mind invincibly recalled to 
that name on the box of papers, which still haunted 
her, still brought with it a vague sense of something 
painful and harrowing a breath of desolation, in 
strange harmony, it often seemed, with certain looks 
and moods of Diana. But Mrs. Colwood searched her 
memory in vain. And, indeed, after a little while, 
some imperious instinct even forbade her the search - 
so rapid and strong was the growth of sympathy with 
the young life which had called her to its aid. 

The day of the Marsham visit arrived a January 
afternoon clear and frosty. In the morning before they 
were to start, Diana seemed to be often closeted with 
her maid, and once in passing Miss Mallory's open 
door, her companion could not help seeing a consulta- 
tion going on, and a snowy white dress, with black 
ribbons, lying on the bed. Heretofore Diana had only 
[ 28 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

appeared in black, the strict black which French dress- 
makers understand, for it was little more than a year 
since her father's death. The thought of seeing her in 
white stirred Mrs. Colwood's expectations. 

Tallyn Hall was eight miles from Beechcote. The 
ladies were to drive, but in order to show Mrs. Colwood 
something of the country, Diana decreed that they 
should walk up to the downs by a field path, meeting 
the carriage which bore their luggage at a convenient 
point on the main road. 

The day was a day of beauty the trees and grass 
lightly rimed, the air sparkling and translucent. 
Nature was held in the rest of winter; but beneath 
the outward stillness, one caught as it were the strong 
heart-beat of the mighty mother. Diana climbed the 
steep down without a pause, save when she turned 
round from time to time to help her companion. Her 
slight firm frame, the graceful decision of her move- 
ments, the absence of all stress and effort, showed 
a creature accustomed to exercise and open air ; Mrs. 
Colwood, the frail Anglo-Indian to whom walking was 
a task, tried to rival her in vain ; and Diana was soon 
full of apologies and remorse for having tempted her 
to the climb. 

' Please ! please !' - - the little lady panted, as 
they reached the top 'was n't this worth it?' 

For they stood in one of the famous wood and 
common lands of Southern England great beeches 
towering overhead glades opening to right and left 
ferny paths over green turf -tracks, and avenues of 
immemorial age, the highways of a vanished life 
old earthworks, overgrown lanes deep-sunk in the 
[ 29 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

chalk where the pack-horses once made their way 
gnarled thorns, bent with years, yet still white- 
mantled in the spring: a wild, enchanted no-man's 
country, owned it seemed by rabbits and birds, sol- 
itary, lovely, and barren yet from its furthest edge, 
the high spectator, looking eastward, on a clear night, 
might see on the horizon the dim flare of London. 

Diana's habitual joy broke out, as she stood gazing 
at the village below, the walls and woods of Beechcote, 
the church, the plough-lands, and the far-western 
plain, drawn in pale greys and purples under the 
declining sun. 

' Is n't it heavenly ! the browns the blues - 
the soberness, the delicacy of it all ! Oh, so much bet- 
ter than any tiresome Mediterranean any stupid 
Eiviera! Ah!' She stopped and turned, checked 
by a sound behind her. 

Captain Roughsedge appeared, carrying his gun, his 
spaniel beside him. He greeted the ladies with what 
seemed to Mrs. Colwood a very evident start of pleas- 
ure, and turned to walk with them. 

'You have been shooting?' said Diana. 

He admitted it. 

'That's what you enjoy?' 

He flushed. 

'More than anything in the world.' 

But he looked at his questioner a little askance, as 
though uncertain how she might take so gross a con- 
fession. 

Diana laughed, and hoped he got as much as he 
desired. Then he was not like his father who cared 
so much for books? 

[ 30 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Oh, books!' He shrugged his shoulders. 'Well, the 
fact is, I I don't often read if I can help it. But 
of course they make you do a lot of it with these 
beastly examinations. They 've about spoilt the 
Army with them/ 

'You would n't do it for pleasure?' 

'What reading?' He shook his head decidedly. 
'Not while I could be doing anything else/ 

'Not history or poetry?' 

He looked at her again nervously. But the girl's 
face was gay, and he ventured on the truth. 

'Well, no, I can't say I do. My father reads a deal 
of poetry aloud/ 

'And it bores you?' 

'Well, I don't understand it,' he said, slowly and 
candidly. 

'Don't you even read the papers?' asked Diana, 
wondering. 

He started. 

'Why, I should think I do!' he cried. 'I should 
rather think I do! That's another thing altogether - 
that's not books/ 

'Then perhaps you read the debate last night?' 

She looked at him with a kindling eye. 

' Of course I did every word of it ! Do you know 
what those Radical fellows are up to now? They'll 
never rest until we've lost the Khaibar and then 
the Lord only knows what '11 happen/ 

Diana flew into discussion quick breath, red 
cheeks ! Mrs. Col wood looked on amazed. 

Presently both appealed to her, the Anglo-Indian. 
But she smiled and stammered declining the chal- 
[ 31 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

lenge. Beside their eagerness, their passion, she felt 
herself tongue-tied. Captain Roughsedge had seen two 
years' service on the Northwest frontier; Diana had 
ridden through the Khaibar with her father and a 
Lieutenant-Governor. In both the sense of England's 
historic task as the guardian of a teeming India against 
onslaught from the north, had sunk deep, not into 
brain merely. Figures of living men, acts of heroism 
and endurance, the thought of English soldiers am- 
bushed in mountain defiles, or holding out against 
Afridi hordes in lonely forts, dying and battling, not 
for themselves, but that the great mountain barrier 
might hold against the savagery of the north, and 
English honour and English power maintain them- 
selves unscathed these had mingled, in both, with 
the chivalry and the red blood of youth. The eyes of 
both had seen ; the hearts of both had felt. 

And now, in the English House of Commons, there 
were men who doubted and sneered about these things 

who held an Afridi life dearer than an English one 
- who cared nothing for the historic task, who would 

let India go to-morrow without a pang ! 

Misguided recreants ! But Mrs. Colwood, looking on, 
could only feel that had they never played their impish 
part, the winter afternoon for these two companions of 
hers would have been infinitely less agreeable. 

For certainly denunciation and argument became 
Diana all the more that she was no 'female franzy' 
who must have all the best of the talk ; she listened 

she evoked she drew on, and drew out. Mrs. 
Colwood was secretly sure that this very modest and 
ordinarily stupid young man had never talked so well 

[ 32 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

before, that his mother would have been astonished 
could she have beheld him. What had come to the 
young women of this generation ! Their grandmothers 
cared for politics only so far as they advanced the 
fortunes of their lords otherwise what was Hecuba 
to them, or they to Hecuba? But these women have 
minds for the impersonal. Diana was not talking to 
make an effect on Captain Roughsedge that was 
the strange part of it. Hundreds of women can make 
politics serve the primitive woman's game; the 'come 
hither in the ee' can use that weapon as well as any 
other. But here was an intellectual, a patriotic pas- 
sion, veritable, genuine, not feigned. 

Well ! the spectator admitted it unwillingly 
so long as the debater, the orator, were still desirable, 
still lovely. She stole a glance at Captain Roughsedge. 
Was he, too, so unconscious of sex, of opportunity? 
Ah ! that she doubted ! The young man played his part 
stoutly ; flung back the ball without a break ; but there 
were glances, and movements and expressions, which 
to this shrewd feminine eye appeared to betray what 
no scrutiny could detect in Diana a pleasure within 
a pleasure, and thoughts behind thoughts. At any 
rate, he prolonged the walk as long as it could be 
prolonged ; he accompanied them to the very door of 
their carriage, and would have delayed them there 
but that Diana looked at her watch in dismay. 

'You'll hear plenty of that sort of stuff to-night!' 
he said, as he helped them to their wraps. "Perish 
India!" and all the rest of it. All they'll mind at 
Tallyn will be that the Afridis have n't killed a few 
more Britishers/ 

[ 33 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana gave him a rather grave smile and bow as the 
carriage drove on. Mrs. Colwood wondered whether 
the Captain's last remark had somehow offended her 
companion. But Miss Mallory made no reference to 
it. Instead, she began to give her companion some pre- 
liminary information as to the party they were likely 
to find at Tallyn. 

As Mrs. Colwood already knew, Mr. Oliver Marsham, 
Member for the Western Division of Brookshire, was 
young and unmarried. He lived with his mother, Lady 
Lucy Marsham, the owner of Tallyn Hall; and his 
widowed sister, Mrs. Fotheringham, was also a con- 
stant inmate of the house. Mrs. Fotheringham was if 
possible more extreme in opinions than her brother, 
frequented platforms, had quarrelled with all her 
Conservative relations, including a family of stepsons, 
and supported Women's Suffrage. It was evident that 
Diana was steeling herself to some endurance in this 
quarter. As to the other guests whom they might 
expect, Diana knew little. She had heard that Mr. 
Ferrier was to be there ex-Home Secretary, and 
now leader of the Opposition and old Lady Niton. 
Diana retailed what gossip she knew of this rather 
famous personage, whom three fourths of the world 
found insolent and the rest witty. 

'They say, anyway, that she can snub Mrs. Fother- 
ingham/ said Diana, laughing. 

'You met them abroad?' 

'Only Mr. Marsham and Lady Lucy. Papa and I 

were walking over the hills at Portofino. We fell in 

with him, and he asked us the way to San Fruttuoso. 

We were going there, so we showed him. Papa liked 

[ 34 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

him, and he came to see us afterwards several times. 
Lady Lucy came once/ 

1 She is nice?' 

' Oh yes/ said Diana, vaguely, 'she is quite beautiful 
for her age. You never saw such lovely hands. And so 
fastidious so dainty ! I remember feeling uncom- 
fortable all the time, because I knew I had a tear in my 
dress, and my hair was untidy and I was certain she 
noticed/ 

'It's all rather alarming/ said Mrs. Col wood, smil- 
ing. 

'No, no!' - - Diana turned upon her eagerly. 
'They're very kind very, very kind!' 

The winter day was nearly gone when they reached 
their destination. But there was just light enough, as 
they stepped out of the carriage, to show a large mod- 
ern building, built of red brick, with many gables and 
bow-windows, and a generally restless effect. As they 
followed the butler through the outer hall, a babel of 
voices made itself heard, and when he threw open the 
door into the inner hall, they found themselves ushered 
into a large party. 

There was a pleased exclamation from a tall fair man 
standing near the fire, who came forward at once to 
meet them. 

'So glad to see you! But we hoped for you earlier! 
Mother, here is Miss Mallory/ 

Lady Lucy, a woman of sixty, still slender and 
stately, greeted them kindly, Mrs. Colwood was intro- 
duced, and room was made for the newcomers in the 
circle round the tea-table, which was presided over by 
[ 35 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLOEY 

a lady with red hair and an eye-glass, who gave a hand 
to Diana, and a bow, or more precisely a nod, to Mrs. 
Col wood. 

'I'm Oliver's sister my name's Fotheringham. 
That's my cousin Madeleine Varley. Madeleine, 
find me some cups ! This is Mr. Ferrier Mr. Ferrier, 
Miss Mallory. I expect you know Lady Niton. 
Sir James Chide, Miss Mallory. Perhaps that'll do 
to begin with!' said Mrs. Fotheringham, carelessly, 
glancing at a further group of people. 'Now I'll give 
you some tea.' 

Diana sat down, very shy, and a little flushed. Mr. 
Marsham hovered about her, inducing her to loosen her 
furs, bringing her tea, and asking questions about her 
settlement at Beechcote. He showed also a marked 
courtesy to Mrs. Colwood, and the little widow, sus- 
ceptible to every breath of kindness, formed the 
prompt opinion that he was both handsome and 
agreeable. 

Oliver Marsham, indeed, was not a person to be 
overlooked. His height was about six foot three ; and 
his long slender limbs and spare frame had earned 
him, as a lad, among the men of his father's works, the 
description of 'two yards o' pump-waater, straight oop 
an' down.' But in his thin lengthiness there was nothing 
awkward rather a graceful readiness and vigour. 
And the head which surmounted this lightly built body 
gave to the whole personality the force and weight it 
might otherwise have missed. The hair was very thick 
and very fair, though already slightly grizzled. It lay 
in heavy curly masses across a broad head, defining 
a strong brow above deeply set small eyes of a pale 
[ 36 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

conspicuous blue. The nose, aquiline and large; the 
mouth large also, but thin-lipped and flexible; slight 
hollows in the cheeks, and a long, lantern jaw. The 
whole figure made an impression of ease, power, and 
self-confidence. 

'So you like your old house?' he said, presently, to 
Diana, sitting down beside her, and dropping his voice 
a little. 

'It suits me perfectly/ 

' I am certain the moat is rheumatic ! But you will 
never admit it/ 

'I would, if it were true/ she said, smiling. 

' No ! you are much too romantic. You see I re- 
member our conversations/ 

'Did I never admit the truth?' 

'You would never admit it was the truth. And my 
difficulty was to find an arbiter between us/ 

Diana's face changed a little. He perceived it in- 
stantly. 

'Your father was sometimes arbiter/ he said, in a 
still lower tone 'but naturally he took your side. 
I shall always rejoice I had that chance of meeting 
him/ 

Diana said nothing, but her dark eyes turned on him 
with a soft friendly look. 

His own smiled in response, and he resumed : 

' I suppose you don't know many of these people 
here?' 

'Not any/ 

' I 'm sure you'll like Mr. Ferrier. He is our very old 
friend almost my guardian. Of course on politics 
you won't agree ! ' 

[ 37 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I did n't expect to agree with anybody here/ said 
Diana, slyly. 

He laughed. 

' I might offer you Lady Niton but I refrain. To- 
morrow I have reason to believe that two Tories are 
coming to dinner/ 

'Which am I to admire? your liberality, or their 
courage?' 

'I have matched them by two Socialists. Which 
will you sit next?' 

'Oh, I'm proof!' said Diana. '"Come one, come 
all.'" 

He looked at her smilingly. 

'Is it always the same? Are you still in love with 
all the dear old abuses?' 

'And do you still hate everything that wasn't 
made last week?' 

' Oh no ! We only hate what cheats or oppresses the 
people.' 

'The people?' echoed Diana, with an involuntary 
lift of the eyebrows, and she looked round the im- 
mense hall, with its costly furniture, its glaring electric 
lights, and the band of bad fresco which ran round its 
lower walls. 

Oliver Marsham reddened a little ; then said : 

' I see my cousin Miss Drake. May I introduce her? 
Alicia!' 

A young lady had entered, from a curtained arch- 
way dividing the hall from a passage beyond. She 
paused a moment examining the company. The dark 
curtain behind her made an effective background for 
the brilliance of her hair, dress, and complexion, of 
[ 38 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

which fact such at least was Diana's instant im- 
pression she was most composedly aware. At least 
she lingered a few leisurely seconds, till everybody in 
the hall had had the opportunity of marking her en- 
trance. Then beckoned by Oliver Marsham, she moved 
toward Diana. 

'How do you do? I suppose you've had a long 
drive? Don't you hate driving?' 

And without waiting for an answer, she turned af- 
fectedly away, and took a place at the tea-table where 
room had been made for her by two young men. 
Reaching out a white hand, she chose a cake, and be- 
gan to nibble it slowly, her elbows resting on the table, 
the ruffles of white lace falling back from her bare and 
rounded arms. Her look meanwhile, half absent, half 
audacious, seemed to wander round the persons near, 
as though she saw them, without taking any real ac- 
count of them. 

'What have you been doing, Alicia, all this time?' 
said Marsham, as he handed her a cup of tea. 

' Dressing.' 

An incredulous shout from the table. 

'Since lunch!' 

Miss Drake nodded. Lady Lucy put in an explana- 
tory remark about a 'dressmaker from town,' but was 
not heard. The table was engaged in watching the 
newcomer. 

'May we congratulate you on the result?' said Mr. , 
Ferrier, putting up his eye-glass. 

'If you like,' said Miss Drake, indifferently, still 
gently munching at her cake. Then suddenly she 
smiled a glittering, infectious smile, to which un- 
[ 39 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

consciously all the faces near her responded. 'I have 
been reading the book you lent me !' she said, address- 
ing Mr. Ferrier. 

1 Well?' 

'I'm too stupid I can't understand it.' 

Mr. Ferrier laughed. 

' I 'm afraid that excuse won't do, Miss Alicia. You 
must find another.' 

She was silent a moment, finished her cake, then 
took some grapes, and began to play with them in the 
same conscious, provocative way till at last she 
turned upon her immediate neighbour, a young bar- 
rister with a broad boyish face. 

'Well, I wonder whether you'd mind?' 

'Mind what?' 

'If your father had done something shocking 
forged or murdered or done something of that 
kind supposing, of course, he were dead.' 

' Do you mean if I suddenly found out?' 

She nodded assent. 

'Well!' he reflected; 'it would be disagreeable!' 

' Yes but would it make you give up all the things 
you like? golfing and cards and parties and 
the girl you were engaged to and take to slumming 
and that kind of thing?' 

The slight inflexion of the last words drew smiles. 

Mr. Ferrier held up a finger. 

'Miss Alicia, I shall lend you no more books/ 

'Why? Because I can't appreciate them?' 

Mr. Ferrier laughed. 

' I maintain that book is a book to melt the heart of 
a stone.' 

[ 40 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Well, I tried to cry/ said the girl, putting another 
grape into her mouth, and quietly nodding at her 
interlocutor ' I did honour bright. But really 
what does it matter what your father did?' 

'My dear!' said Lady Lucy, softly. Her singularly 
white and finely wrinkled face, framed in a delicate 
capote of old lace, looked coldly at the speaker. 

'By the way/ said Mr. Ferrier, 'does not the ques- 
tion rather concern you in this neighbourhood? I hear 
young Brenner has just come to live at West Hill. I 
don't know what sort of a youth he is, but if he's 
a decent fellow, I don't imagine anybody will boycott 
him on account of his father's misdoings/ 

He referred to one of the worst 'financial scandals of 
the preceding generation. Lady Lucy made no answer, 
but any one closely observing her might have noticed 
a sudden and sharp stiffening of the lips, which was in 
truth her reply. 

' Oh, you can always ask a man like that to garden- 
parties!' said a shrill, distant voice. 

The group round the table turned. The remark was 
made by old Lady Niton, who sat enthroned in an arm- 
chair near the fire, sometimes knitting, and sometimes 
observing her neighbours with a malicious eye. 

'Any thing's good enough, is n't it, for garden-par- 
ties?' said Mrs. Fotheringham, with a little sneer. 

Lady Niton's face kindled. 

' Let us be Radicals, my dear/ she said, briskly, ' but 
not hypocrites. Garden-parties are invaluable for 
people you can't ask into the house. By the way, 
was n't it you, Oliver, who scolded me last night, 
because I said somebody was n't "in Society"?' 
[ 41 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'You said it of a particular hero of mine/ laughed 
Marsham. 'I naturally pitied Society/ 

'What is Society? Where is it?' said Sir James 
Chide, contemptuously. ' I suppose Lady Palmerston 
knew/ 

The famous lawyer sat a little apart from the *est. 
Diana, who had only caught his name, and knew 
nothing else of him, looked with sudden interest at 
the man's great brow and haughty look. 

Lady Niton shook her head emphatically. 

'We know quite as well as she did. Society is just 
as strong and just as exclusive as it ever was. But it is 
clever enough now to hide the fact from outsiders/ 

' I am afraid we must agree that standards have been 
much relaxed/ said Lady Lucy. 

' Not at all not at all ! ' cried Lady Niton. ' There 
were black sheep then ; and there are black sheep now/ 

Lady Lucy held her own. 

' I am sure that people take less care in their invita- 
tions/ she said, with soft obstinacy. 'I have often 
heard my mother speak of society in her young days 
- how the dear Queen's example purified it and 
how much less people bowed down to money then than 
now/ 

'Ah, that was before the Americans and the Jews/ 
said Sir James Chide. 

' People forget their responsibility/ said Lady Lucy, 
turning to Diana, and speaking so as not to be heard 
by the whole table. ' In old days it was birth ; but 
now now when we are all democratic it should 
be character. Don't you agree with me?' 

'Other people's, character?' asked Diana, 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Oh, we must n't be unkind, of course. But when 
a thing is notorious. Take this young Brenner. His 
father's frauds ruined hundreds of poor people. How 
can I receive him here, as if nothing had happened? 
It ought not to be forgotten. He himself ought to 
wish to live quietly 1 / 

Diana gave a hesitating assent, adding : 

'But I'm sorry for Mr. Brenner!' 

Mr. Ferrier, as she spoke, leant slightly across the 
tea-table as though to listen to what she said. Lady 
Lucy moved away, and Mr. Ferrier, after spending 
a moment of quiet scrutiny on the young mistress of 
Beechcote, came to sit beside her. 

Mrs. Fotheringham threw herself back in her chair 
with a little yawn. 

'Mamma is more difficult than the Almighty!' she 
said, in a loud aside to Sir James Chide. ' One sin or 
even somebody else's sin and you are done for/ 

Sir James, who was a Catholic, and scrupulous in 
speech, pursed his lips slightly, drummed on the table 
with his fingers, and finally rose without reply, and 
betook himself to the Times. Miss Drake meanwhile 
had been carried off to play billiards at the further end 
of the hall by the young men of the party. It might 
have been noticed that, before she went, she had spent 
a few minutes of close though masked observation of 
her cousin Oliver's new friend. Also, that she tried to 
carry Oliver Marshamwith her, but unsuccessfully. He 
had returned to Diana's neighbourhood, and stood 
leaning over a chair beside her, listening to her con- 
versation with Mr. Ferrier. 

His sister, Mrs. Fotheringham, was not content to 
I 43 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

listen. Diana's impressions of the country-side, which 
presently caught her ear, evidently roused her pugnac- 
ity. She threw herself on all the giiTs rose-coloured 
appreciations with a scorn hardly disguised. All the 
'locals/ according to her, were stupid or snobbish 
bores, in fact, of the first water. And to Diana's dis- 
comfort and amazement, Oliver Marsham joined in. 
He showed himself possessed of a sharper and more 
caustic tongue than Diana had yet suspected. His 
sister's sallies only amused him, and sometimes he im- 
proved on them, with epithets or comments, shrewder 
than hers, indeed, but quite as biting. 

'His neighbours and constituents!' thought Diana, 
in a young astonishment. ' The people who send him 
to Parliament!' 

Mr. Ferrier seemed to become aware of her surprise 
and disapproval, for he once or twice threw in a satir- 
ical word or two, at the expense, not of the criticised, 
but of the critics. The well-known Leader of the 
Opposition was a stout man of middle height, with 
a round head and face, at first sight wholly undistin- 
guished* an ample figure, and strong, grizzled hair. 
But there was so much honesty and acuteness in the 
eyes, so much humour in the mouth, and so much kind- 
ness in the general aspect, that Diana felt herself at 
once attracted ; and when the master of the house was 
summoned by his head gamekeeper to give directions 
for the shooting-party of the following day, and Mrs. 
Fotheringham had gone off to attend what seemed to 
be avast correspondence, the politician and the young 
girl fell into a conversation which soon became agree- 
able and even absorbing to both. Mrs. Colwood, sitting 
[ 44 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

on the other side of the hall, timidly discussing fancy 
work with the Miss Varleys, Lady Lucy's young nieces, 
saw that Diana was making a conquest ; and it seemed 
to her, moreover, that Mr. Ferrier's scrutiny of his 
companion was somewhat more attentive and more 
close than was quite explained by the mere casual 
encounter of a man of middle age with a young and 
charming girl. Was he like herself aware that 
matters of moment might be here at their beginning? 

Meanwhile, if Mr. Ferrier was making discoveries, so 
was Diana. A man, it appeared, could be not only one 
of the busiest and most powerful politicians in Eng- 
land, but also a philosopher, and a reader, one whose 
secret tastes were as unworldly and romantic as her 
own. Books, music, art he could handle these subjects 
no less skilfully than others political or personal. And, 
throughout, his deference to a young and pretty woman 
was never at fault. Diana was encouraged to talk, and 
then, without a word of flattery, given to understand 
that her talk pleased. Under this stimulus, her soft 
dark beauty was soon glowing at its best ; innocence, 
intelligence, and youth spread as it were their tendrils 
to the sun. 

Meanwhile, Sir James Chide, a few yards off, was 
apparently absorbed partly in the Times, partly in the 
endeavour to make Lady Lucy's fox terrier go through 
its tricks. 

Once Mr. Ferrier drew Diana's attention to her 
neighbour. 

'You know him?' 

' I never saw him before.' 

'You know who he is?' 

[ 45 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Ought I? I am so sorry !' 

'He is perhaps the greatest criminal advocate we 
have. And a very distinguished politician too. - 
Whenever our party comes in, he will be in the Cab- 
inet. You must make him talk this evening.' 

'I? 7 said Diana, laughing and blushing. 

'You can!' smiled Mr. Ferrier. 'Witness how you 
have been making me chatter! But I think I read 
you right? You do not mind if one chatters? if one 
gives you information?' 

'Mind! How could I be anything but grateful? 
It puzzles me so this - -' she hesitated. 

'This English life? especially the political life? 
Well ! let me be your guide. I have been in it for 
a long while.' 

Diana thanked him, and rose. 

'You want your room?' he asked her, kindly. 
'Mrs. Fotheringham, I think, is in the drawing-room. 
Let me take you to her. But, first, look at two or three 
of these pictures as you go.' 

'These pictures?' faltered Diana, looking round 
her, her tone changing. 

' Oh, not those horrible frescoes ! Those were per- 
petrated by Marsham's father. They represent, as you 
see, the different processes of the Iron Trade. Old 
Henry Marsham liked them, because, as he said, they 
explained him, and the house. Oliver would like to 
whitewash them but for filial piety. People might 
suppose him ashamed of his origin. No, no ! I mean 
those two or three old pictures at the end of the room. 
Come and look at them they are on our way/ 

He led her to inspect them. They proved to be two 
[ 46 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Gainsboroughs and a Raeburn, representing ancestors 
on Lady Lucy's side. Mr. Ferrier's talk of them 
showed his intimate knowledge both of Varleys and 
Marshams, the knowledge rather of a kinsman than 
a friend. Diana perceived, indeed, how great must be 
the affection, the intimacy, between him and them. 

Meanwhile, as the man of fifty and the slender girl 
in black passed before him, on their way to examine 
the pictures, Sir James Chide, casually looking up, was 
apparently struck by some rapid and powerful impres- 
sion. It arrested the hand playing with the dog; it 
held and transformed the whole man. His eyes, open 
as though in astonishment or pain, followed every 
movement of Diana, scrutinised every look and gest- 
ure. His face had flushed slightly his lips were 
parted. He had the aspect of one trying eagerly, pas- 
sionately, to follow up some clue that would not un- 
wind itself; and every now and then he bent forward 
- listening trying to catch her voice. 

Presently the inspection was over. Diana turned 
and beckoned to Mrs. Colwood. The two ladies went 
toward the drawing-room, Mr. Ferrier showing the 
way. 

When he returned to the hall, Sir James Chide, its 
sole occupant, was walking up and down. 

'Who was that young lady?' said Sir James, turning 
abruptly. 

'Is n't she charming? Her name is Mallory and 
she has just settled at Beechcote, near here. That 
small fair lady was her companion. Oliver tells me she 
is an orphan well off with no kith or kin. She 
has just come to England, it seems, for the first time. 
t 47 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Her father brought her up abroad away from every- 
body. She will have a success! But of all the little 
Jingoes!' 

Mr. Ferrier's face expressed an amused recollection 
of some of Diana's speeches. 

'Mallory?' said Sir James, under his breath 
'Mallory?' 

He walked to the window, and stood looking out, 
his hands in his pockets. 

Mr. Ferrier went upstairs to write letters. In a few 
minutes the man at the window came slowly back 
toward the fire, staring at the ground. 

'The look in the eyes!' he said to himself 'the 
mouth ! the voice !' 

He stood by the vast and pompous fireplace 
hanging over the blaze the prey of some profound 
agitation, some flooding onset of memory. Servants 
passed and repassed through the hall ; sounds loud and 
merry came from the drawing-room. Sir James neither 
saw nor heard. 



CHAPTER III 

ALICIA DRAKE a vision of pale pink had just 
appeared in the long gallery at Tallyn, on her way 
to dinner. Her dress, her jewels, and all her minor 
appointments were of that quality and perfection to 
which only much thought and plentiful money can at- 
tain. She had not, in fact, been romancing in that ac- 
count of her afternoon which has been already quoted. 
Dress was her weapon and her stock in trade ; it was, 
she said, necessary to her 'career/ And on this plea 
she steadily exacted in its support a proportion of the 
family income which left but small pickings for the 
schooling of her younger brothers and the allowances 
of her two younger sisters. But so great were the in- 
dulgence and the pride of her parents small Devon- 
shire landowners living on an impoverished estate 
that Alicia's demands were conceded without a mur- 
mur. They themselves were insignificant folk, who had, 
in their own opinion, failed in life ; and most of their 
children seemed to them to possess the same ineffect- 
ive qualities or the same absence of qualities as 
themselves. But Alicia represented their one chance 
of something brilliant and interesting, something to 
lift them above their neighbours and break up the 
monotony of their later lives. Their devotion was a 
strange mixture of love and selfishness; at any rate, 
Alicia could always feel, and did always feel that she 
was playing her family's game as well as her own. 
[ 49 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Her own game, of course, came first. She was not 
a beauty, in the sense in which Diana Mallory was a 
beauty ; and of that fact she had been perfectly aware 
after her first apparently careless glance at the new- 
comer of the afternoon. But she had points that never 
failed to attract notice: a free and rather insolent 
carriage, audaciously beautiful eyes, a general round- 
ness and softness, and a grace unfailing, deliberate, 
and provocative, even in actions, morally, the most 
graceless that would have alone secured her the 
'career' on which she was bent. 

Of her mental qualities, one of the most profitable 
was a very shrewd power of observation. As she swept 
slowly along the corridor, which overlooked the hall at 
Tallyn, none of the details of the house were lost upon 
her. Tallyn was vast, ugly above all, rich. Henry 
Marsham, the deceased husband of Lady Lucy and 
father of Oliver and Mrs. Fotheringham, had made 
an enormous fortune in the iron trade of the North, 
retiring at sixty that he might enjoy some of those 
pleasures of life for which business had left him too 
little time. One of these pleasures was building. Henry 
Marsham had spent ten years in building Tallyn, and 
at the end of that time, feeling it impossible to live in 
the huge incoherent place he had created, he hired a 
small villa at Nice and went to die there in privacy and 
peace. Nevertheless, his will laid strict injunctions 
upon his widow to inhabit and keep up Tallyn; in- 
junctions backed by considerable sanctions of a finan- 
cial kind. His will, indeed, had been altogether a docu- 
ment of some eccentricity ; though as eight years had 
now elapsed since his death, the knowledge of its pro- 
[ 50 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

visions possessed by outsiders had had time to grow 
vague. Still, there were strong general impressions 
abroad, and as Alicia Drake surveyed the house which 
the old man had built to be the incubus of his descend- 
ants, some of them teased her mind. It was said, for 
instance, that Oliver Marsham and his sister only pos- 
sessed pittances of about a thousand a year apiece, 
while Tallyn, together with the vast bulk of Henry 
Marsham's fortune, had been willed to Lady Lucy, and 
lay, moreover, at her absolute disposal. Was this so, or 
no? Miss Drake's curiosity, for some time past, would 
have been glad to be informed. 

Meanwhile, here was the house about which there 
was no mystery least of all, as to its cost. Interm- 
inable broad corridors, carpeted with ugly Brussels 
and suggesting a railway hotel, branched out before 
Miss Drake's eyes in various directions; upon them 
opened not bedrooms but 'suites/ as Mr. Marsham 
pere had loved to call them, of which the number was 
legion, while the bachelors' wing alone would have 
lodged a regiment. Every bedroom was like every 
other, except for such variations as Tottenham Court 
Road, rioting at will, could suggest. Copies in marble 
or bronze of well-known statues ranged along the cor- 
ridors a forlorn troupe of nude and shivering divin- 
ities. The immense hall below, with its violent frescoes 
and its brand-new Turkey carpets, was panelled in 
oak, from which some device of stain or varnish had 
managed to abstract every particle of charm. A whole 
oak wood, indeed, had been lavished on the swathing 
and sheathing of the house, with the only result that 
the spectator beheld it steeped in a repellent yellow- 
[ 51 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

brown from top to toe, against which no ornament, no 
piece of china, no picture, even did they possess some 
individual beauty, could possibly make it prevail. 

And the drawing-room ! As Alicia Drake advanced 
alone into its empty and blazing magnificence she could 
only laugh in its face so eager and restless was the 
effort which it made, and so hopeless the defeat. Enorm- 
ous mirrors, spread on white and gold walls; large 
copies from Italian pictures, collected by Henry Mar- 
sham in Rome ; more facile statues holding innumer- 
able lights ; great pieces of modern china painted with 
realistic roses and poppies; crimson carpets, gilt furn- 
iture, and flaring cabinets Miss Drake frowned as 
she looked at it. ' What could be done with it ? ' she said 
to herself, walking slowly up and down, and glancing 
from side to side 'What could be done with it?' 

A rustle in the hall announced another guest. Mrs. 
Fotheringham entered. Marsham's sister dressed with 
severity ; and as she approached her cousin she put up 
her eye-glass for what was evidently a hostile inspec- 
tion of the dazzling effect presented by the young 
lady. But Alicia was not afraid of Mrs. Fotheringham. 

' How early we are !' she said, still quietly looking at 
the reflexion of herself in the mirror over the mantel- 
piece and warming a slender foot at the fire. ' Have n't 
some more people arrived, Cousin Isabel? I thought 
I heard a carriage while I was dressing/ 

'Yes; Miss Vincent and three men came by the late 
train.' 

'All Labour Members?' asked Alicia, with a laugh. 

Mrs. Fotheringham explained, with some tartness, 
that only one of the three was a Labour Member Mr. 
[ 52 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Barton. Of the other two, one was Edgar Frobisher, 
the other, Mr. McEwart, a Liberal M.P., who had just 
won a hotly contested bye-election. At the name of 
Edgar Frobisher, Miss Drake's countenance showed 
some animation. She inquired if he had been doing 
anything madder than usual. Mrs. Fotheringham re- 
plied, without enthusiasm, that she knew nothing 
about his recent doings nor about Mr. McEwart, 
who was said, however, to be of the right stuff. Mr. 
Barton, on the other hand, ' is a great friend of mine 
and a most remarkable man. Oliver has been very 
lucky to get him/ 

Alicia inquired whether he was likely to appear in 
dress-clothes. 

' Certainly not. He never does anything out of keep- 
ing with his class and he knows that we lay no stress 
on that kind of thing/ 

This, with another glance at the elegant Paris frock 
which adorned the person of Alicia a frock, in Mrs. 
Fotheringham's opinion, far too expensive for the 
girl's circumstances. Alicia received the glance without 
flinching. It was one of her good points that she was 
never meek with the people who disliked her. She 
merely threw out another inquiry as to 'Miss Vincent.' 

'One of mamma's acquaintances. She was a pri- 
vate secretary to some one mamma knows, and she 
is going to do some work for Oliver when the Session 
begins. ' 

'Did n't Oliver tell me she is a Socialist?' 

Mrs. Fotheringham believed it might be said. 

'How Miss Mallory will enjoy herself!' said Alicia, 
with a little laugh. 

[ 53 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Have you been talking to Oliver about her?' 

Mrs. Fotheringham stared rather hard at her cousin. 

' Of course. Oliver likes her/ 

' Oliver likes a good many people/ 

' Oh no, Cousin Isabel ! Oliver likes very few people 
very, very few/ said Miss Drake, decidedly, looking 
down into the fire. 

'I don't know why you give Oliver such an un- 
amiable character ! In my opinion, he is often not so 
much on his guard as I should like to see him.' 

'Oh, well, we can't all be as critical as you, dear 
Cousin Isabel! But, anyway, Oliver admires Miss 
Mallory extremely. We can all see that/ 

The girl turned a steady face on her companion. 
Mrs. Fotheringham was conscious of a certain secret 
admiration. But her own point of view had nothing to 
do with Miss Drake's. 

'It amuses him to talk to her/ she said, sharply; 
' I am sure I hope it won't come to anything more. 
It would be very unsuitable/ 

'Why? Politics? Oh! that doesn't matter a 
bit/ 

' I beg your pardon. Oliver is becoming an import- 
ant man, and it will never do for him to hamper him- 
self with a wife who cannot sympathise with any of 
his enthusiasms and ideals/ 

Miss Drake shrugged her shoulders. 

' He would convert her and he likes triumphing. 
Oh ! Cousin Isabel ! look at that lamp !' 

An oil lamp in an inner drawing-room, placed to 
illuminate an easel portrait of Lady Lucy, was smok- 
ing atrociously. The two ladies flew toward it, and 
[ 54 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

were soon lost to sight and hearing amid a labyrinth of 
furniture and palms. 

The place they left vacant was almost immediately 
filled by Oliver Marsham himself, who came in study- 
ing a pencilled paper, containing the names of the 
guests. He and his mother had not found the dinner 
very easy to arrange. Upon his heels followed Mr. 
Ferrier, who hurried to the fire, rubbing his hands and 
complaining of the cold. 

' I never felt this house cold before. Has anything 
happened to your calorif&re? These rooms are too big ! 
By the way, Oliver' Mr. Ferrier turned his back to 
the blaze, and looked round him 'when are you 
going to reform this one?' 

Oliver surveyed it. 

' Of course I should like nothing better than to make 
a bonfire of it all ! But mother - 

' Of course of course ! Ah, well, perhaps when you 
marry, my dear boy! Another reason for making 
haste!' 

The older man turned a laughing eye on his com- 
panion. Marsham merely smiled, a little vaguely, with- 
out reply. 

Ferrier observed him, then began abstractedly to 
study the carpet. After a moment he looked up - 

' I like your little friend, Oliver I like her par- 
ticularly!' 

'Miss Mallory? Yes, I saw you had been making 
acquaintance. Well?' 

His voice affected a light indifference, but hardly 
succeeded. 

'A very attractive personality! fresh and wo- 

[ i 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

manly no nonsense heart enough for a dozen. 
But all the same the intellect is hungry, and wants 
feeding. No one will ever succeed with her, Oliver, 
who forgets she has a brain. Ah! here she is!' 

For the door had been thrown open, and Diana en- 
tered, followed by Mrs. Colwood. She came in slowly, 
her brow slightly knit, and her black eyes touched with 
the intent, seeking look which was natural to them. 
Her dress of the freshest simplest white fell about her 
in plain folds. It made the same young impression as 
the childish curls on the brow and temples, and both 
men watched her with delight. 

Marsham went to meet her. 

'Will you sit on my left? I must take in Lady 
Niton/ 

Diana smiled and nodded. 

'And who is to be my fate?' 

' Mr. Edgar Frobisher. You will quarrel with him 
and like him!' 

'One of the "Socialists"?' 

'Ah you must find out!' 

He threw her a laughing backward glance as he went 
off to give directions to some of his other guests. The 
room filled up. Diana was aware of a tall young man, 
fair-haired, and evidently Scotch, whom she had not 
seen before, and then of a girl, whose appearance and 
dress riveted her attention. She was thin and small 
handsome, but for a certain strained, emaciated air, 
a lack of complexion and of bloom. But her blue eyes, 
black-lashed and black-browed, were superb; they 
made indeed the note, the distinction of the whole 
figure. The thick hair, cut short in the neck, was 
[ 56 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

brushed back and held by a blue ribbon, the only trace 
of ornament in a singular costume, which consisted of 
a very simple morning dress, of some woollen material, 
nearly black, garnished at the throat and wrists by 
some plain white frills. The dress hung loosely on the 
girl's starved frame, the hands were long and thin, 
the face sallow. Yet such was the force of the eyes, the 
energy of the strong chin and mouth, the flashing free- 
dom of her smile, as she stood talking to Lady Lucy, 
that all the ugly plainness of the dress seemed to 
Diana, as she watched her, merely to increase her 
strange effectiveness, to mark her out the more fav- 
ourably from the glittering room, from Lady Lucy's 
satin and diamonds, or the shimmering elegance of 
Alicia Drake. 

As she bowed to Mr. Frobisher, and took his arm 
amid the pairs moving toward the dining-room, 
Diana asked him eagerly who the lady in the dark 
dress might be. 

'Oh! a great friend of mine/ he said, pleasantly. 
'Isn't she splendid? Did you notice her evening 
dress?' 

'Is it an evening dress?' 

' It's her evening dress. She possesses two costumes 
both made of the same stuff, only the morning one 
has a straight collar, and the evening one has frills.' 

'She does n't think it right to dress like other 
people?' 

'Well she has very little money, and what she has 
she can't afford to spend on dress. No I suppose 
she does n't think it right.' 

By this time they were settled at table, and Diana, 
[ 57 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

convinced that she had found one of the two Socialists 
promised her, looked round for the other. Ah ! there 
he was, beside Mrs. Fotheringham who was talking 
to him with an eagerness rarely vouchsafed to her 
acquaintances. A powerful, short-necked man, in the 
black Sunday coat of the workman, with sandy hair, 
blunt features, and a furrowed brow he had none 
of the magnetism, the strange refinement of the lady 
in the frills. Diana drew a long breath. 

'How odd it all is!' she said, as though to herself. 

Her companion looked at her with amusement. 

'What is odd? The combination of this house 
with Barton and Miss Vincent?' 

'Why do they consent to come here?' she asked, 
wondering. ' I suppose they despise the rich/ 

' Not at all ! The poor things the rich can't 
help themselves just yet. We come here because 
we mean to use the rich/ 

'You! you too?' 

'A Fabian ' he said, smiling. 'Which means that 
I am not in such a hurry as Barton/ 

'To ruin your country? You would only murder 
her by degrees?' flashed Diana. 

'Ah! you throw down the glove? so soon? 
Shall we postpone it for a course or two? I am no 
use till I have fed/ 

Diana laughed. They fell into a gossip about their 
neighbours. The plain young man, with a shock of fair 
hair, a merry eye, a short chin, and the spirits of a 
schoolboy, sitting on Lady Niton's left, was, it seemed, 
the particular pet and prote"g of that masterful old 
lady. Diana remembered to have seen him at tea-time 
[ 58 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

in Miss Drake's train. Lady Niton, she was told, dis- 
liked her own sons, but was never tired of befriending 
two or three young men who took her fancy. Bobbie 
Forbes was a constant frequenter of her house on 
Campden Hill. 'But he is no toady. He tells her a 
number of plain truths and amuses her guests. In 
return she provides him with what she calls "the best 
society " and pushes his interests in season and out 
of season. He is in the Foreign Office, and she is at 
present manoeuvring to get him attached to the Special 
Mission which is going out to Constantinople/ 

Diana glanced across the table, and in doing so met 
the eyes of Mr. Bobbie Forbes, which laughed into hers 
- involuntarily as much as to say ' You see my 
plight? ridiculous, is n't it?' 

For Lady Niton was keeping a greedy conversa- 
tional hold on both Marsham and the young man, 
pouncing to right or left, as either showed a disposition 
to escape from it so that Forbes was violently with- 
held from Alicia Drake, his rightful lady, and Marsham 
could engage in no consecutive conversation with 
Diana. 

'No escape for you!' smiled Mr. Frobisher, pre- 
sently, observing the position. 'Lady Niton always 
devastates a dinner-party.' 

Diana protested that she was quite content. Might 
she assume, after the fourth course, that his hun- 
ger was at least scotched and conversation thrown 
open? 

'I am fortified thank you. Shall we go back to 
where we left off? You had just accused me of ruining 
the country?' 

[ 59 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'By easy stages/ said Diana. 'Was n't that where 
we had come to? But first tell me, because it's all 
so puzzling! do you and Mr. Marsham agree?' 

'A good deal. But he thinks he can use ws which 
is his mistake/ 

'And Mr. Ferrier?' 

Mr. Frobisher shook his head good-humouredly. 

' No, no ! Ferrier is a Whig the Whig of to-day, 
bien entendu, who is a very different person from the 
Whig of yesterday still, a Whig, an individualist, a 
moderate man. He leads the Liberal party and it is 
changing all the time under his hand into something 
he dreads and detests. The party can't do without 
him now but ' 

He paused, smiling. 

'It will shed him some day?' 

'It must!' 

'And where will Mr. Marsham be then? ' 

'On the winning side I think.' 

The tone was innocent and careless ; but the words 
offended her. 

She drew herself up a little. 

'He would never betray his friends!' 

' Certainly not, ' said Mr. Frobisher, hastily ; ' I did n't 
mean that. But Marsham has a mind more open, 
more elastic, more modern than Ferrier great man 
as he is.' 

Diana was silent. She seemed still to hear some 
of the phrases and inflexions of Mr. Ferrier's talk of 
the afternoon. Mr. Frobisher's prophecy wounded 
some new-born sympathy in her. She turned the 
conversation. 

[ 60 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

With Oliver Marsham she talked when she could, as 
Lady Niton allowed her. She succeeded, at least, in 
learning something more of her right-hand neighbour 
and of Miss Vincent. Mr. Frobisher, it appeared, was 
a Fellow of Magdalen, and was at present lodging 
in Limehouse, near the docks, studying poverty and 
Trade-Unionism, and living upon a pound a week. 
As for Miss Vincent, in her capacity of secretary to 
a well-known Radical Member of Parliament, she had 
been employed, for his benefit, in gathering informa- 
tion firsthand, very often in the same fields where 
Mr. Frobisher was at work. This brought them often 
together and they were the best of comrades, and 
allies. 

Diana's eyes betrayed her curiosity ; she seemed to 
be asking for clues in a strange world. Marsham 
apparently felt that nothing could be more agreeable 
than to guide her. He began to describe for her the life 
of such a woman of the people as Marion Vincent. An 
orphan at fourteen, earning her own living from the 
first ; self-dependent, self -protected ; the friend, on per- 
fectly equal terms, of a group of able men, interested 
in the same social ideals as herself ; living alone, in con- 
tempt of all ordinary conventions, now in Kensington 
or Belgravia, and now in a back street of Stepney, or 
Poplar, and equally at home and her own mistress in 
both ; exacting from a rich employer the full market 
value of the services she rendered him, and refusing 
to accept the smallest gift or favour beyond ; a con- 
vinced Socialist and champion of the poor, who had 
within the past twelve months, to Marsham's know- 
ledge, refused an offer of marriage from a man of large 
[ 61 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

income, passionately devoted to her, whom she liked 

mainly, it was believed, because his wealth was 
based on sweated labour : such was the character 
sketched by Marsham for his neighbour in the inter- 
mittent conversation, which was all that Lady Niton 
allowed him. 

Diana listened silently, but inwardly her mind was 
full of critical reactions. Was this what Mr. Marsham 
most admired, his ideal of what a woman should be? 
Was he exalting, exaggerating it a little, by way of 
antithesis to those old-fashioned surroundings, that 
unreal atmosphere, as he would call it, in which, for 
instance, he had found her Diana at Rapallo 

under her father's influence and bringing-up? The 
notion spurred her pride as well as her loyalty to her 
father. She began to hold herself rather stiffly, to 
throw in a critical remark or two, to be a little flippant 
even, at Miss Vincent's expense. Homage so warm 
laid at the feet of one ideal was she felt it a dis- 
paragement of others ; she stood for those others ; and 
presently Marsham began to realise a hurtling of shafts 
in the air, an incipient battle between them. 

He accepted it with delight. Still the same poetical, 
combative, impulsive creature, with the deep soft 
voice ! She pleased his senses ; she stirred his mind ; 
and he would have thrown himself into one of the old 
Rapallo arguments with her then and there but for the 
gad-fly at his elbow. 

Immediately after dinner Lady Niton possessed her- 
self of Diana. 'Come here, please, Miss Mallory! I 
wish to make your acquaintance/ Thus commanded, 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the laughing but rebellious Diana allowed herself to be 
led to a corner of the over-illuminated drawing-room. 

'Well!' said Lady Niton, observing her 'so you 
have come to settle in these parts?' 

Diana assented. 

'What made you choose Brookshire?' The question 
was enforced by a pair of needle-sharp eyes. 'There 
is n't a person worth talking to within a radius of 
twenty miles.' 

Diana declined to agree with her; whereupon Lady 
Niton impatiently exclaimed : ' Tut tut ! One might 
as well milk he-goats as talk to the people here. No- 
thing to be got out of any of them. Do you like 
conversation?' 

' Immensely ! ' 

'Hum! But mind you don't talk too much. 
Oliver talks a great deal more than is good for him. 
So you met Oliver in Italy? What do you think of 
him?' 

Diana, keeping a grip on laughter, said something 
civil. 

'Oh, Oliver's clever enough and ambitious!' 
Lady Niton threw up her hands. 'But I'll tell you 
what stands in his way. He says too sharp things of 
people. Do .you notice that?' 

'He is very critical/ said Diana, evasively. 

' Oh, Lord, much worse than that !' said Lady Niton, 
coolly. 'He makes himself very unpopular. You 
should tell him so.' 

'That would be hardly my place,' said Diana, flush- 
ing a little. 

Lady Niton stared at her a moment rather hard 
[ 63 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

then said : ' But he's honey and balm itself compared to 
Isabel! The Marshams are old friends of mine, but 
I don't pretend to like Isabel Fotheringham at all. 
She calls herself a Radical, and there's no one insists 
more upon their birth and their advantages than she. 
Don't let her bully you come to me if she does I '11 
protect you.' 

Diana said vaguely that Mrs. Fotheringham had 
been very kind. 

'You haven't had time to find out,' said Lady 
Niton, grimly. She leant back, fanning herself, her 
queer white face and small black eyes alive with mal- 
ice. ' Did you ever see such a crew as we were at din- 
ner? I reminded Oliver of the rhyme "The animals 
went in two by two." It's always the way here. 
There's no society in this house, because you can't 
take anything or any one for granted. One must 
always begin from the beginning. What can I have 
in common with that man Barton? The last time I 
talked to him, he thought Lord Grey the Reform 
Bill Lord Grey was a Tory and had never heard 
of Louis Philippe. He knows nothing that we know 
and what do I care about his Socialist stuff? Well, 
now Alicia' her tone changed 'do you admire 
Alicia?' 

Diana, in discomfort, glanced through the arch- 
way, leading to the inner drawing-room, which framed 
the sparkling figure of Miss Drake and murmured 
a complimentary remark. 

'No!' said Lady Niton, with emphasis; 'no 
she's not handsome though she makes people be- 
lieve she is. You'll see in five years. Of course the 
[ 64 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

stupid men admire her, and she plays her -cards very 
cleverly ; but my dear ! ' suddenly the formidable 
old woman bent forward, and tapped Diana's arm with 
her fan ' let me give you a word of advice. Don't be 
too innocent here or too amiable. Don't give your- 
self away especially to Alicia ! ' 

Diana had the disagreeable feeling of being looked 
through and through, physically and mentally; though 
at the same time she was only very vaguely conscious 
as to what there might be either for Lady Niton or 
Miss Drake to see. 

'Thank you very much/ she said, trying to laugh it 
off. 'It is very kind of you to warn me but really 
I don't think you need/ 

She looked round her waveringly. 

'May I introduce you to my friend? Mrs. Colwood 
Lady Niton/ 

For her glance of appeal had brought Mrs. Colwood to 
her aid, and between them they coped with this enfant 
terrible among dowagers till the gentlemen came in. 

'Here is Sir James Chide/ said Lady Niton, rising. 
' He wants to talk to you, and he don't like me. So 
I'll go.' 

Sir James, not without a sly smile, discharged arrow- 
like at the -retreating enemy, took the seat she had 
vacated. 

'This is your first visit to Tallyn, Miss Mallory?' 

The voice speaking was the voix d'or familiar to 
Englishmen in many a famous case, capable of any 
note, any inflexion, to which sarcasm or wrath, 
shrewdness or pathos, might desire to tune it. In this 
case it was gentleness itself; and so was the counten- 
[ 65 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ance he turned upon Diana. Yet it was a countenance 
built rather for the sterner than the milder uses of life. 
A natural majesty expressed itself in the domed fore- 
head, and in the fine head, lightly touched with grey ; 
the eyes too were grey, the lips prominent and sens- 
itive, the face long, and, in line, finely regular. A face 
of feeling and of power ; the face of a Celt, disciplined 
by the stress and conflict of a non-Celtic world. Di- 
ana's young sympathies sprang to meet it, and they 
were soon in easy conversation. 

Sir James questioned her kindly, but discreetly. This 
was really her first visit to Brookshire? 

' To England ! ' said Diana ; and then, on a little woo- 
ing, came out the girl's first impressions, natural, en- 
thusiastic, gay. 

Sir James listened, with eyes half -closed, following 
every movement of her lips, every gesture of head 
and hand. 

'Your parents took you abroad quite as a child?' 

' I went with my father. My mother died when I was 
quite small/ 

Sir James did not speak for a moment. At last he 
said: 

' But before you went abroad, you lived in London?' 

'Yes in Kensington Square/ 

Sir James made a sudden movement which dis- 
placed a book on a little table beside him. He stooped 
to pick it up. 

'And your father was tired of England? 7 

Diana hesitated 

'I I think he had gone through great trouble. He 
never got over mamma's death/ 
[ 66 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Oh yes, I see/ said Sir James, gently. 

Then, in another tone : 

' So you settled on that beautiful coast? I wonder if 
that was the winter I first saw Italy?' 

He named the year. 

'Yes that was the year/ said Diana. 'Had you 
never seen Italy before that?' 

She looked at him in a little surprise. 

'Do I seem to you so old?' said Sir James, smiling. 
' I had been a very busy man, Miss Mallory, and my 
holidays had been generally spent in Ireland. But that 
year ' - - he paused a moment ' that year I had been 
ill, and the doctors sent me abroad in October/ he 
added, slowly and precisely. ' I went first to Paris, and 
I was at Genoa in November.' 

'We must have been there just about then! 
Mamma died in October. And I remember the winter 
was just beginning at Genoa it was very cold and 
I got bronchitis I was only a little thing.' 

'And Oliver tells me you found a home at Porto- 
fino?' 

Diana replied. He kept her talking ; yet her impres- 
sion was that he did not listen very much to what 
she said. At the same time she felt herself studied, in 
a way which made her self-conscious, which perhaps 
she might have resentep! in any man less polished and 
less courteous. 

'Pardon me ' he said, abruptly, at a pause in the 
conversation. 'Your name interests me particularly. 
It is Welsh, is it not? I knew two or three persons of 
that name; and they were Welsh.' 

Diana's look changed a little. 
[ 67 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Yes, it is Welsh/ she said, in a hesitating, reserved 
voice ; and then looked round her as though in search 
of a change of topic. 

Sir James bent forward. 

'May I come and see you some day at Beechcote?' 

Diana flushed with surprise and pleasure. 

' Oh ! I should be so honoured !' 

'The honour would be mine/ he said, with pleasant 
deference. ' Now I think I see that Marsham is wroth 
with me for monopolizing you like this/ 

He rose and walked away, just as Marsham brought 
up Mr. Barton to introduce him to Diana. 

Sir James wandered on into a small drawing-room at 
the end of the long suite of rooms ; in its seclusion he 
turned back to look at the group he had left behind. 
His face, always delicately pale, had grown strained 
and white. 

'Is it possible 1 he said to himself 'that she 
knows nothing? that that man was able to keep it 
all from her?' 

He walked up and down a little by himself pon- 
dering the prey of the same emotion as had seized 
him in the afternoon ; till at last his ear was caught by 
some hubbub, some agitation in the big drawing-room, 
especially by the sound of the girlish voice he had just 
been listening to, only speaking this time in quite 
another key. He returned to see what was the matter. 

He found Miss Mallory the centre of a circle of spec- 
tators and listeners, engaged apparently in a three- 
cornered and very hot discussion with Mr. Barton, the 
Socialist Member, and Oliver Marsham. Diana had en- 
[ 68 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

tirely forgotten herself, her shyness, the strange house, 
and all her alarms. If Lady Niton took nothing for 
granted at Tallyn, that was not, it seemed, the case 
with John Barton. He, on the contrary, took it for 
granted that everybody there was at least a good Radi- 
cal, and as stoutly opposed as himself to the 'wild-cat' 
and 'Jingo' policy of the Government on the Indian 
frontier, where one of our perennial little wars was 
then proceeding. News had arrived that afternoon of 
an indecisive engagement, in which the lives of three 
English officers and some fifty men of a Sikh regiment 
had been lost. Mr. Barton, in taking up the evening 
paper, lying beside Diana, which contained the news, 
had made very much the remark foretold by Captain 
Roughsedge in the afternoon. It was, he thought, a 
pity the repulse had not been more decisive so as 
to show all the world into what a hornet's nest the 
Government was going ' and a hornet's nest which 
will cost us half a million to take before we've done/ 

Diana's cheeks flamed. Did Mr. Barton mean to 
regret that no more English lives had been lost? 

Mr. Barton was of opinion that if the defeat had 
been a bit worse, bloodshed might have been saved in 
the end. A Jingo Viceroy and a Jingo press could only 
be stopped by disaster 

On the contrary, said Diana, we could not afford to 
be stopped by disaster. Disaster must be retrieved. 

Mr. Barton asked her why? Were we never to 
admit that we were in the wrong? 

The Viceroy and his advisers, she declared, were not 
likely to be wrong. And prestige had to be maintained. 

At the word 'prestige' the rugged face of the Labour 
t 69 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Member grew contemptuous and a little angry. He 
dealt with it as he was accustomed to deal with it 
in Socialist meetings or in Parliament. His touch in 
doing so was neither light nor conciliatory ; the young 
lady, he thought, required plain speaking. 

But so far from intimidating the young lady, he 
found in the course of a few more thrusts and parries 
that he had roused a by no means despicable antagon- 
ist. Diana was a mere mouthpiece ; but she was the 
mouthpiece of eye-witnesses ; whereas Barton was 
the mouthpiece of his daily newspaper and a handful 
of partisan books written to please the political section 
to which he belonged. 

He began to stumble and to make mistakes gross 
elementary mistakes in geography and fact and 
therewith to lose his temper. Diana was upon him in 
a moment very cool and graceful controlling her- 
self well ; and it is very probable that she would have 
won the day triumphantly but for the sudden inter- 
vention of her host. 

Oliver Marsham had been watching her with min- 
gled amusement and admiration. The slender figure 
held defiantly erect, the hands close-locked on the 
knee, the curly head with the air of a Nike* he could 
almost see the palm branch in the hand, the white 
dress and the silky hair, blown back by the blasts 
of victory! appealed to a rhetorical element in his 
nature always closely combined both with his feelings 
and his ambitions. Headlong energy and partisanship 
he was enchanted to find how beautiful they could 
be, and he threw himself into the discussion simply - 
at first that he might prolong an emotion, might 
F 70 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

keep the red burning on her lip and cheek. That blun- 
dering fellow Barton should not have it all to himself ! 

But he was no sooner well in it than he too began to 
flounder. He rode off upon an inaccurate telegram in a 
morning paper ; Diana fell upon it at once, tripped it 
up, exposed it, drove it from the field, while Mr. Fer- 
rier approved her from the background with a smiling 
eye and a quietly applauding hand. Then Marsham 
quoted a speech in the Indian Council. 

Diana dismissed it with contempt, as the shaft of 
a frondeur discredited by both parties. He fell back 
on Blue Books, and other ponderosities Barton by 
this time silent, or playing a clumsy chorus. But if 
Diana was not acquainted with these things in the ore, 
so to speak, she was more than a little acquainted with 
the missiles that could be forged from them. That very 
afternoon Hugh Roughsedge had pointed her to some 
of the best. She took them up a little wildly now 
- for her coolness was departing and for a time 
Marsham could hardly keep his footing. 

A good many listeners were by now gathered round 
the disputants. Lady Niton, wielding some noisy knit- 
ting-needles by the fireside, was enjoying the fray all 
the more that it seemed to be telling against Oliver. 
Mrs. Fotheringham, on the other hand, who came up 
occasionally to the circle, listened and went away 
again, was clearly seething with suppressed wrath, and 
had to be restrained once or twice by her brother from 
interfering, in a tone which would at once have put an 
end to a duel he himself only wished to prolong. 

Mr. Ferrier perceived her annoyance, and smiled 
over it. In spite of his long friendship with the family, 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Isabel Fotheringham was no favourite with the great 
man. She had long seemed to him a type a strange 
and modern type of the feminine fanatic who allows 
political difference to interfere not only with private 
friendship but with the nearest and most sacred ties ; 
and his philosopher's soul revolted. Let a woman talk 
politics, if she must, like this eager idealist girl not 
with the venom and gall of the half -educated politi- 
cian. ' As if we had n't enough of that already ! ' 

Other spectators paid more frivolous visits to the 
scene. Bobbie Forbes and Alicia Drake, attracted by 
the sounds of war, looked in from the next room. 
Forbes listened a moment, shrugged his shoulders, 
made a whistling mouth, and then walked off to a glass 
bookcase the one sign of civilisation in the vast 
room where he was soon absorbed in early editions 
of English poets, Lady Lucy's inheritance from a lit- 
erary father. Alicia moved about, a little restless and 
scornful, now listening unwillingly, and now attempt- 
ing diversions. But in these she found no one to second 
her, not even the two pink-and-white nieces of Lady 
Lucy, who did not understand a word of what was 
going on, but were none the less gazing open-mouthed 
at Diana. 

Marion Vincent meanwhile had drawn nearer to 
Diana. Her strong significant face wore a quiet smile ; 
there was a friendly, even an admiring penetration in 
the look with which she watched the young prophetess 
of Empire and of War. As for Lady Lucy, she was 
silent, and rather grave. In her secret mind she 
thought that young girls should not be vehement or 
presumptuous. It was a misfortune that this pretty 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

creature had not been more reasonably brought up; 
a mother's hand had been wanting. While not only 
Mr. Ferrier and Mrs. Col wood, sitting side by side in 
the background, but everybody else present, in some 
measure or degree, was aware of some play of feeling in 
the scene, beyond and behind the obvious, some hid- 
den forces, or rather, perhaps, some emerging relation, 
which gave it significance and thrill. The duel was 
a duel of brains unequal at that; what made it 
fascinating was the universal or typical element in 
the clash of the two personalities the man using his 
whole strength, more and more tyrannously, more and 
more stubbornly the girl resisting, flashing, appeal- 
ing, fighting for dear life, now gaining, now retreating 
and finally overborne. 

For Marsham's staying powers, naturally, were the 
greater. He summoned finally all his nerve and all his 
knowledge. The air of the carpet-knight with which 
he had opened battle disappeared ; he fought seriously 
and for victory. And suddenly Diana laughed a 
little hysterically and gave in. He had carried her 
into regions of history and politics where she could not 
follow. She dropped her head in her hands a moment 
- then fell back in her chair silenced her beauti- 
ful passionate eyes fixed on Marsham, as his were on 
her. 

'Brava! Brava!' cried Mr. Ferrier, clapping his 
hands. The room joined in laughter and applause. 

A few minutes later the ladies streamed out into 
the hall on their way to bed. Marsham came to light 
a candle for Diana. 

[ 73 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Do you forgive me? 7 he said, as he gave it to her. 

The tone was gay and apologetic. 

She laughed unsteadily, without reply. 

'When will you take your revenge?' 

She shook her head, touched his hand for 'good- 
night/ and went upstairs. 

As Diana reached her room she drew Mrs. Colwood 
in with her but not, it seemed, for purposes of con- 
versation. She stood absently by the fire taking off 
her bracelets and necklace. Mrs. Colwood made a few 
remarks about the evening and the guests, with little 
response, and presently wondered why she was de- 
tained. At last Diana put up her hands, and smoothed 
back the hair from her temples with a long sigh. Then 
she laid a sudden grasp upon Mrs. Colwood, and looked 
earnestly and imploringly into her face. 

'Will you please call me Diana? And and 
will you kiss me?' 

She humbly stooped her head. Mrs. Colwood, much 
touched, threw her arms around her, and kissed her 
heartily. Then a few warm words fell from her as to 
the scene of the evening. Diana withdrew herself at 
once, shivering a little. 

' Oh, I want papa ! ' she said ' I want him so 
much!' 

And she hid her eyes against the mantelpiece. 

Mrs. Colwood soothed her affectionately, perhaps 
expecting some outburst of confidence, which, how- 
ever, did not come. Diana said a quiet 'good-night/ 
and they parted. 

But it was long before Mrs. Colwood could sleep. 
Was the emotion she had just witnessed flinging 
[ 74 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

itself geyserlike into sight, only to sink back as swiftly 
out of ken was it an effect of the past or an omen 
of the future? The longing expressed in the girl's 
heart and voice, after the brave show she had made 
- had it overpowered her just because she felt her- 
self alone, without natural protectors, on the brink 
of her woman's destiny? 



CHAPTER IV 

THE next day, when Diana looked out from her win- 
dow, she saw a large and dreary park wrapped in scud- 
ding rain which promised evil things for the shooting- 
party of the day. Mr. Marsham senior had apparently 
laid out his park and grounds on the same principles as 
those on which he had built his house. Everything was 
large and expensive. The woods and plantations were 
kept to a nicety ; not a twig was out of place. Enorm- 
ous cost had been incurred in the planting of rare 
evergreens; full-grown trees had been transplanted 
wholesale from a distance, and still wore in many cases 
a sickly and invalided air ; and elaborate contrasts in 
dark and light foliage had been arranged by the land- 
scape-gardener employed. Dark plantations, had a 
light border light plantations a dark one. A lake or 
large pond, with concrete banks and two artificial 
islands, held the centre of the park, and on the mono- 
tonous stretches of immaculate grass there were deer 
to be seen wherever anybody could reasonably expect 
them. 

Diana surveyed it all with a lively dislike. She pitied 
Lady Lucy and Mr. Marsham because they must live 
in such a place. Especially, surely, must it be hamper- 
ing and disconcerting to a man, preaching the demo- 
cratic gospel, and looking forward to the democratic 
millennium, to be burdened with a house and estate 
which could offer so few excuses for the wealth of 
[ 76 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

which they made an arrogant and uninviting display. 
Immense possessions and lavish expenditure may be, 
as we all know, so softened by antiquity, or so masked 
by taste, as not to jar with ideals the most different or 
remote. But here 'proputty! proputty!' was the cry 
of every ugly wood and tasteless shrubbery, whereas 
the prospective owner of them, according to his public 
utterances and career, was magnificently careless of 
property was, in fact, in the eyes of the lovers 
of property, its enemy. The house again spoke loudly 
and aggressively of money ; yet it was the home of 
a champion of the poor. 

Well a man cannot help it, if his father has suf- 
fered from stupidity and bad taste ; and encumbrances 
of this kind are more easily created than got rid of. 
No doubt Oliver Marsham's democratic opinions had 
been partly bred in him by opposition and recoil. Diana 
seemed to get a good deal of rather comforting light on 
the problem by looking at it from this point of view. 

Indeed, she thought over it persistently while she 
dressed. From the normal seven hours' sleep of youth 
she had awakened with braced nerves. To remember 
her duel of the night before was no longer to thrill 
with an excitement inexplicable even to herself, and 
strangely mingled with a sense of loneliness or fore- 
boding. Under the morning light she looked at things 
more sanely. Her natural vanity, which was the reflex- 
ion of her wish to please, told her that she had not 
done badly. She felt a childish pleasure in the memory 
of Mr. Barton's discomfiture ; and as to Mr. Marsham, 
it was she, and not her beliefs, not the great Imperial 
'cause' which had been beaten. How could she expect 
[ 77 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to hold her own with the professional politician when 
it came really to business? In her heart of hearts she 
knew that she would have despised Oliver Marsham if 
he had not been able to best her in argument. ' If it 
had been papa/ she thought, proudly, 'that would 
have been another story 1 / 

Nevertheless, as she sat meekly under the hands of 
her maid, smiles 'went out and in,' as she remembered 
the points where she had pressed him hard, had almost 
overcome him. An inclination to measure herself with 
him again danced within her. Will against will, mind 
against mind her temperament, in its morning rally, 
delighted in the thought. And all the time there hov- 
ered before her the living man, with his agreeable, 
energetic, challenging presence. How much better she 
had liked him, even in his victory of the evening, than 
in the carping, sarcastic mood of the afternoon ! 

In spite of gaiety and expectation, however, she felt 
her courage fail her a little as she left her room and 
ventured out into the big populous house. Her solitary 
bringing-up had made her liable to fits of shyness amid 
her general expansiveness, and it was a relief to meet 
no one least of all, Alicia Drake on her way 
downstairs. Mrs. Colwood, indeed, was waiting for 
her at the end of the passage, and Diana held her hand 
a little as they descended. 

A male voice was speaking in the hall Mr. 
Marsham giving the last directions for the day to the 
head keeper. The voice was sharp and peremptory 
too peremptory, one might have thought, for demo- 
cracy addressing a brother. But the keeper, a grey- 
haired, weather-beaten man of fifty, bowed himself out 
[ 78 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

respectfully, and Marsham turned to greet Diana. 
Mrs. Colwood saw the kindling of his eyes as they fell 
on the girl's morning freshness. No sharpness in the 
voice now ! he was all eagerness to escort and serve 
his guests. 

He led them to the breakfast-room, which seemed to 
be in an uproar, caused apparently by Bobbie Forbes 
and Lady Niton, who were talking at each other across 
the table. 

'What is the matter?' asked Diana, as she slipped 
into a place to which Sir James Chide smilingly invited 
her between himself and Mr. Bobbie. 

Sir James, making a pretence of shutting his ears 
against the din, replied that he believed Mr. Forbes 
was protesting against the tyranny of Lady Niton in 
obliging him to go to church. 

' She never enters a place of worship herself, but she 
insists that her young men friends shall go. Mr. 
Bobbie is putting his foot down ! ' 

'Miss Mallory, let me get you some fish/ said Forbes, 
turning to her with a flushed and determined counten- 
ance. ' I have now vindicated the rights of man, and 
am ready to attend if you will allow me to the 
wants of woman. Fish? or bacon?' 

Diana made her choice, and the young man supplied 
her; then bristling with victory, and surrounded by 
samples of whatever food the breakfast-table afforded, 
he sat down to his own meal. 

'No!' he said, with energy, addressing Diana. 'One 
must really draw the line. The last Sunday Lady 
Niton took me to church, the service lasted an hour 
and three quarters. I am a High Churchman I vow 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

I am an out-and-outer. I go in for snippets and 
shortening things. The man here is a dreadful old 
Erastian piles on everything you can pile on so 
I just felt it necessary to give Lady Niton notice. To- 
morrow I have work for the department at home! 
Take my advice, Miss Mallory don't go/ 

'I'm not staying over Sunday/ smiled Diana. 

The young man expressed his regret. 

'I say/ he said, with a quick look round, 'you 
did n't think I was rude last night, did you?' 

'Rude? When?' 

'In not listening. I can't listen when people talk 
politics. I want to drown myself. Now, if it was poetry 
or something reasonable. You know the only things 
worth looking at in this beastly house' he low- 
ered his voice 'are the books in that glass bookcase. 
It was Lady Lucy's father old Lord Merston col- 
lected them. Lady Lucy never looks at them. Mar- 
sham does, I suppose sometimes. Do you knovr 
Marsham well?' 

' I made acquaintance with him and Lady Lucy on 
the Riviera.' 

Mr. Bobbie observed her with a shrewd eye. In spite 
of his inattention of the night before, the interest of 
Miss Mallory's appearance upon the scene at Tallyn 
had not been lost upon him, any more than upon other 
people. The rumour had preceded her arrival that 
Marsham had been very much ' smitten ' with her amid 
the pine woods of Portofino. Marsham's taste was 
good emphatically good. At the same time it was 
clear that the lady was no mere facile and commonplace 
girl. It was Forbes 's opinion, based on the scene of the 
[ 80 ]. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

previous evening, that there might be a good deal of 
wooing to be done. 

'There are so many things I wanted to show you 
and to talk about!' said Oliver Marsham, con- 
fidentially, to Diana, in the hall after breakfast 
1 but this horrid shoot will take up all the day ! If the 
weather is not too bad, I think some of the ladies 
meant to join us at luncheon. Will you venture?' 

His tone was earnest ; his eyes endorsed it. Diana 
hoped it might be possible to come. Marsham lingered 
beside her to the last minute ; but presently final orders 
had to be given to keepers, and country neighbours 
began to arrive. 

'They do the thing here on an enormous scale/ said 
Bobbie Forbes, lounging and smoking beside Diana; 
' it 's almost the biggest shoot in the county. Amusing, 
is n't it? in this Radical house. Do you see that 
man McE wart?' 

Diana turned her attention upon the young Member 
of Parliament who had arrived the night before 
plain, sandy-haired, with a long flat-backed head, and 
a gentlemanly manner. 

'I suspect a good deal's going on here behind the 
scenes,' said Bobbie, dropping his voice. 'That man 
Barton maybe a fool to talk, but he's a great power in 
the House with the other Labour men. And McEwart 
has been hand and glove with Marsham all this Session. 
They're trying to force Ferrier's hand. Some Bill the 
Labour men want and Ferrier won't hear of. A good 
many people say we shall see Marsham at the head of 
a Fourth Party of his own very soon. Se soumettre, ou 
[ 81 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

se demettre! well, it may come to that for old 
Ferrier. But I '11 back him to fight his way through.' 

'How can Mr. Marsham oppose him?' asked Diana, 
in wonder, and some indignation with her companion. 
' He is the leader of the Party, and besides they are 
such friends!' 

Forbes looked rather amused at her womanish view 
of things. 

'Friends? I should rather think so!' 

By this time he and Diana were strolling up and 
down the winter garden opening out of the hall, which 
was now full of a merry crowd waiting for the depart- 
ure of the shooters. Suddenly Forbes paused. 

'Do you see that?' 

Diana's eyes followed his till they perceived Lady 
Lucy sitting a little way off under a camellia-tree cov- 
ered with red blossom. Her lap was heaped with the 
letters of the morning. Mr. Ferrier, with a cigarette in 
his mouth, stood beside her, reading the sheets of a let- 
ter which she handed to him as she herself finished 
them. Every now and then she spoke to him, and he 
replied. In the little scene, between the slender white- 
haired woman and the middle-aged man, there was 
something so intimate, so conjugal even, that Diana 
involuntarily turned away as though to watch it were 
an impertinence. 

'Rather touching, is n't it?' said the youth, smiling 
benevolently. 'Of course you know there's a ro- 
mance, or rather was long ago. My mother knew 
all about it. Since old Marsham 's death, Lady Lucy's 
never done a thing without Ferrier to advise her. Why 
she hasn't married him, that's the puzzle. But 
[ 8* ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

she's a curious woman, is Lady Lucy. Looks so soft, 
but - ' He pursed up his lips with an important air. 
'Anyhow, she depends a lot on Ferrier. He's con- 
stantly here whenever he can be spared from London 
and Parliament. He got Oliver into Parliament his 
first seat I mean for Wanchester. The Ferriers are 
very big people up there, and old Ferrier's recom- 
mendation of him just put him in straight no 
trouble about it ! Oh ! and before that when he was at 
Eton and Oxford too Ferrier looked after him 
like a father. Used to have him up for exeats 
and talk to the Head and keep his mother straight 
like an old brick. Ferrier 's a splendid chap!' 

Diana warmly agreed. 

'Perhaps you know/ pursued the chatterbox, 'that 
this place is all hers Lady Lucy's. She can leave it 
and her money exactly as she pleases. It is to be hoped 
she won't leave much of it to Mrs. Fotheringham. 
7s n't that* a woman ! Ah ! you don't know her yet. 
Hullo ! there's Marsham after me.' 

For Marsham was beckoning from the hall. They 
returned hurriedly. 

'Who made Oliver that waistcoat?' said Lady Niton, 
putting on her spectacles. 

' I did/ said Alicia Drake, as she came up, with her 
arm round the younger of Lady Niton's nieces. ' Is n't 
it becoming?' 

'Hum!' said Lady Niton, in a gruff tone, 'young 
ladies can always find new ways of wasting their time/ 

Marsham approached Diana. 

'We're just off/ he said, smiling. 'The clouds are 
lifting. You'll come?' 

[ 83 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'What, to lunch?' said Lady Niton, just behind. 
' Of course they will. What else is there for the women 
to do? Congratulate you on your waistcoat, Oliver/ 

'Is n't it superb?' he said, drawing himself up with 
mock majesty, so as to show it off. 'I am Alicia's 
debtor for life.' 

Yet a careful ear might have detected something 
a little hollow in the tone. 

Lady Niton looked at him, and then at Miss Drake, 
evidently restraining her sharp tongue for once, 
though with difficulty. Marsham lingered a moment 
making some last arrangements for the day with his 
sister. Diana noticed that he towered over the men 
amongst whom he stood; and she felt herself suddenly 
delighting in his height, in his voice which was remark- 
ably refined and agreeable, in his whole capable and 
masterful presence. Bobbie Forbes standing beside 
him was dwarfed to insignificance, and he seemed to 
be conscious of it, for he rose on his toes a little, 
involuntarily copying Marsham's attitude, and looking 
up at him. 

As the shooters departed, Forbes bringing up the 
rear, Lady Niton laid her wrinkled hand on his arm. 

' Never mind, Bobbie, never mind ! ' she smiled at 
him confidentially. 'We can't all be six foot.' 

Bobbie stared at her first fiercely then ex- 
ploded with laughter, shook off her hand and de- 
parted. 

Lady Niton, evidently much pleased with herself, 
came back to the window where most of the other ladies 
stood watching the shooters with their line of beaters 
crossing the lawn toward the park beyond. 
[ 84 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Ah ! ' she said, ' I thought Alicia would see the last 
of them/ 

For Miss Drake, in defiance of wind and spitting 
rain, was walking over the lawn the centre of a large 
group, with Marsham beside her. Her white serge 
dress and the blue shawl she had thrown over her fair 
head made a brilliant spot in the dark wavering line. 

'Alicia is very picturesque/ said Mrs. Fotheringham, 
turning away. 

'Yes and last summer Oliver seemed to be well 
aware of it/ said Lady Niton, in her ear. 

'Was he? He has always been very good friends 
with Alicia/ 

'He could have done without the waistcoat/ said 
Lady Niton, sharply. 

'Are n't you rather unkind? She began it last sum- 
mer, and finished it yesterday. Then, of course, she 
presented it to him. I don't see why that should 
expose her to remarks/ 

'One can't help making remarks about Alicia/ said 
Lady Niton, calmly, 'and she can defend herself so 
well/ 

'Poor Alicia!' 

' Confess you would n't like Oliver to marry her/ 

'Oliver never had any thought of it/ 

Lady Niton shook her queer grey head. 

' Oliver paid her a good deal of attention last sum- 
mer. Alicia must certainly have considered the matter. 
And she is a young lady not easily baffled/ 

'Baffled!' Mrs. Fotheringham laughed. 'What can 
she do?' 

'Well, it's true that Oliver seems to have got an- 
[ 85 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

other idea in his head. What do you think of that 
pretty child who came yesterday the Mallory girl?' 

Mrs. Fotheringham hesitated, then said, coldly : 

'I don't like discussing these things. Oliver has 
plenty of time before him/ . 

'If he is turning his thoughts in that quarter/ per- 
sisted Lady Niton, ' I give him my blessing. Well bred, 
handsome, and well off what's your objection?' 

Mrs. Fotheringham laughed impatiently. 

'Really, Lady Niton, I made no objection/ 

'You don't like her!' 

'I have only known her twenty-four hours. How 
can I have formed any opinion about her?' 

'No you don't like her! I suppose you thought 
she talked stuff last night?' 

'Well, there can be no two opinions about that!' 
cried Mrs. Fotheringham. ' Her father seems to have 
filled her head with all sorts of false Jingo notions, and 
I must say I wondered Oliver was so patient with her.' 

Lady Niton glanced at the thin fanatical face of the 
speaker. 

'Oliver had great difficulty in holding his own. She 
is no fool, and you'll find it out, Isabel, if you try to 
argue her down ' 

'I should n't dream of arguing with such a child!' 

'Well, all I know is Ferrier seemed to admire her 
performance. 1 

Mrs. Fotheringham paused a moment, then said, 
with harsh intensity : 

'Men have not the same sense of responsibility/ 

'You mean their brains are befogged by a pretty 
face?' 

[ 86 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'They don't put non-essentials aside, as we do. A 
girl like that, in love with what she calls "glory" and 
"prestige," is a dangerous and demoralising influence. 
That glorification of the Army is at the root of half 
our crimes 1 / 

Mrs. Fotheringham's pale skin had flushed till it 
made one red with her red hair. Lady Niton looked at 
her with mingled amusement and irritation. She won- 
dered why men married such women as Isabel Fother- 
ingham. Certainly Ned Fotheringham himself de- 
ceased some three years before this date had paid 
heavily for his mistake ; especially through the endless 
disputes which had arisen between his children and his 
second wife partly on questions of religion, partly 
on this matter of the Army. Mrs. Fotheringham was 
an agnostic; her stepsons, the children of a devout 
mother, were churchmen. Influenced, moreover, by 
a small coterie, in which, to the dismay of her elderly 
husband, she had passed most of her early married 
years, she detested the Army as a brutal influence on 
the national life. Her youngest stepson, however, had 
insisted on becoming a soldier. She broke with him, 
and with his brothers who supported him. Now a 
childless widow, without ties and moderately rich, she 
was free to devote herself to her ideas. In former days 
she would have been a religious bigot of the first 
water; the bigotry was still there; only the subjects 
of it were changed. 

Lady Niton delighted in attacking her ; yet was not 
without a certain respect for her. Old sceptic that she 
was, ideals of any sort imposed upon her. How people 
came by them, she herself could never imagine. 

[ 87 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

On this particular morning, however, Mrs. Fother- 
ingham did not allow herself as long a wrangle as 
usual with her old adversary. She went off, carrying 
an armful of letters with large enclosures, and Lady 
Niton understood that for the rest of the morning she 
would be as much absorbed by her correspondence 
mostly on public questions as the Leader of the 
Opposition himself, to whom the library was sacredly 
given up. 

'When that woman takes a dislike/ she thought to 
herself, 'it sticks ! She has taken a dislike to the Mai- 
lory girl. Well, if Oliver wants her, let him fight for 
her. I hope she won't drop into his mouth ! Mallory ! 
Mallory ! I wonder where she comes from, and who her 
people are.' 

Meanwhile Diana was sitting amongst her letters, 
which mainly concerned the last details of the Beech- 
cote furnishing. She and Mrs. Colwood were now 
'Muriel' and 'Diana' to each other, and Mrs. Colwood 
had been admitted to a practical share in Diana's small 
anxieties. 

Suddenly Diana, who had just opened a hitherto 
unread letter, exclaimed : 

'Oh, but how delightful!' 

Mrs. Colwood looked up ; Diana's aspect was one of 
sparkling pleasure and surprise. 

' One of my Barbadoes' cousins is here in London 
actually in London and I knew nothing of her 
coming. She writes to me. Of course she must come 
to Beechcote she must come at once!' 

She sprang up, and went to a writing-table near, to 
[ 88 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

look for a telegraph-form. She wrote a message with 
eagerness, despatched it, and then explained as co- 
herently as her evident emotion and excitement would 
allow. 

'They are my only relations in the world that I 
know of that papa ever spoke to me about. Mam- 
ma's sister married Mr. Merton. He was a planter in 
Barbadoes. He died about three years ago, but his 
widow and daughters have lived on there. They were 
very poor and could n't afford to come home. Fanny 
is the eldest I think she must be about twenty/ 

Diana paced up and down, with her hands behind 
her, wondering when her telegram would reach her 
cousin, who was staying at a London boarding-house, 
when she might be expected at Beechcote, how long 
she could be persuaded to stay speculations, in fact, 
innumerable. Her agitation was pathetic in Mrs. Col- 
wood's eyes. It testified to the girl's secret sense of 
forlornness, to her natural hunger for the ties and re- 
lationships other girls possessed in such abundance. 

Mrs. Colwood inquired if it was long since she had 
had news of her cousins. 

'Oh, some years!' said Diana, vaguely. 'I remem- 
ber a letter coming before we went to the East 
and papa reading it. I know' she hesitated 'I 
know he did n't like Mr. Merton/ 

She stood still a moment, thinking. The lights and 
shadows of reviving memory crossed her face, and 
presently her thought emerged, with very little hint 
to her companion of the course it had been taking out 
of sight. 

'Papa always thought it a horrid life for them 
[ 89 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Aunt Merton and the girls especially after they gave 
up their estate and came to live in the town. But how 
could they help it? They must have been very poor. 
Fanny* she took up the letter 'Fanny says she 
has come home to learn music and French that 
she may earn money by teaching when she goes back. 
She does n't write very well, does she?* 

She held out the sheet. 

The handwriting, indeed, was remarkably illiterate, 
and Mrs. Colwood could only say that probably a girl 
of Miss Merton's circumstances had had few advant- 
ages. 

' But then, you see, we '11 give her advantages ! ' cried 
Diana, throwing herself down at Mrs. Col wood's feet, 
and beginning to plan aloud. 'You know if she will 
only stay with us, we can easily have people down from 
London for lessons. And she can have the green bed- 
room over the dining-room can't she? and the 
library to practise in. It would be absurd that she 
should stay in London, at a horrid boarding-house, 
when there's Beechcote, would n't it?' 

Mrs. Colwood agreed that Beechcote would probably 
be quite convenient for Miss Merton 's plans. If she felt 
a little pang at the thought that her pleasant tete-d-tfae 
with her new charge was to be so soon interrupted, and 
for an indefinite period, by a young lady with the 
handwriting of a scullery-maid, she kept it entirely 
hidden. 

Diana talked herself into the most rose-coloured plans 

for Fanny Merton's benefit so voluminous, indeed, 

that Mrs. Colwood had to leave her in the middle of 

them that she might go upstairs and mend a rent in 

[ 90 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her walking-dress. Diana was left alone in the draw- 
ing-room, still smiling and dreaming. In her impulsive 
generosity she saw herself as the earthly providence of 
her cousin, sharing with a dear kinswoman her own 
unjustly plentiful well-being. 
Then she took up the letter again. It ran thus : 

MY DEAR DIANA, You must n't think it cheeky 
my calling you that, but I am your real cousin, and 
mother told me to write to you. I hope too you won't 
be ashamed of us, though we are poor. Everybody 
knows us in Barbadoes, though of course that's not 
London. I am the eldest of the family, and I got very 
tired of living all in a pie, and so I 've come home to 
England to better myself. A year ago I was engaged 
to be married, but the young man behaved badly. A 
good riddance, all my friends told me but it was n't 
a pleasant experience. Anyway now I want to earn 
some money, and see the world a little. I have got 
rather a good voice, and I am considered handsome 
at least smart-looking. If you are not too grand to 
invite me to your place, I should like to come and see 
you, but of course you must do as you please. I got 
your address from the bank Uncle Mallory used to 
send us cheques on. I can tell you we have missed 
those cheques pretty badly this last year. I hope 
you have now got over your great sorrow. This 
boarding-house is horribly poky but cheap, which 
is the great thing. I arrived the night before last. 
And I am 

Your affectionate cousin, 
FANNY MERTON. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

No, it really was not an attractive letter. On the 
second reading, Diana pushed it away from her, rather 
hastily. Then she reminded herself again, elaborately, 
of the Mertons' disadvantages in life, painting them in 
imagination as black as possible. And before she had 
gone far with this process all doubt and distaste were 
once more swept away by the rush of yearning, of an 
interest she could not subdue, in this being of her own 
flesh and blood, the child of her mother's sister. She sat 
with flushed cheeks, absorbed in a stream of thoughts 
and reminiscence. 

'You look as though you had had good news/ said 
Sir James Chide, as he paused beside her on his way 
through the drawing-room. He was not a sportsman ; 
nor was Mr. Ferrier. 

His eyes rested upon her with such a kind interest, 
his manner showed so plainly yet again that he de- 
sired to be her friend, that Diana responded at once. 

' I have found a cousin ! ' she said, gaily, and told the 
story of her expected visitor. 

Outwardly perfunctorily Sir James's aspect 
while she was speaking answered to hers. If she was 
pleased, he was pleased too. He congratulated her ; he 
entered into her schemes for Miss Merton's amusement. 
Really, all the time, the man's aspect was singularly 
grave; he listened carefully to every word ; he observed 
the speaker. 

'The young lady's mother is your aunt?' 

'She was my mother's sister/ 

'And they have been long in Barbadoes?' 

'I think they migrated there just about the same 
time we went abroad after my mother's death.' 
[ 92 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Sir James said little. He encouraged her to talk on ; 
he listened to the phrases of memory or expectation 
which revealed her history her solitary bringing-up 

her reserved and scholarly father the singular 
closeness, and yet as it seemed strangeness of her rela- 
tion to him. It appeared, for instance, that it was only 
an accident, some years before, which had revealed to 
Diana the very existence of these cousins. Her father 
had never spoken of them spontaneously. 

' I hope she will be everything that is charming and 
delightful/ he said at last as he rose. 'And rem'ember 

I am to come and see you!' 

He stooped his grey head, and gently touched her 
hand with an old man's freedom. 

Diana warmly renewed her invitation. 

'There is a house near you that I often go to Sir 
William Felton's. I am to be there in a few weeks. 
Perhaps I shall even be able to make acquaintance with 
Miss Fanny!' 

He walked away from her. 

Diana could not see the instant change of counten- 
ance which accompanied the movement. Urbanity, 
gentleness, kind indulgence vanished. Sir James looked 
anxious and disturbed ; and he seemed to be talking to 
himself. 

The rest of the morning passed heavily. Diana wrote 
some letters, and devoutly hoped the rain would stop. 
In the intervals of her letter-writing, or her study of 
the clouds, she tried to make friends with Miss Drake 
and Mrs. Fotheringham. But neither effort came to 
good. Alicia, so expansive, so theatrical, so much the 
centre of the situation, when she chose, could be 
[ 93 ]. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

equally prickly, monosyllabic, and repellent when it 
suited her to be so. Diana talked timidly of dress, of 
London, and the Season. They were the subjects on 
which it seemed most natural to approach Miss Drake ; 
Diana's attitude was inquiring and propitiatory. But 
Alicia could find none but careless or scanty replies till 
Madeleine Varley came up. Then Miss Drake's tongue 
was loosened. To her, as to an equal and intimate, she 
displayed her expert knowledge of shops and modistes, 
of 'people* and their stories. Diana sat snubbed and 
silent, a little provincial outsider, for whom 'seasons' 
are not made. Nor was it any better with Mrs. Fother- 
ingham. At twelve o'clock that lady brought the Lon- 
don papers into the drawing-room. Further informa- 
tion had been received from the Afghan frontier. 
The English loss in the engagement already reported 
was greater than had been at first supposed; and 
Diana found the name of an officer she had known in 
India among the dead. As she pondered the telegram, 
the tears in her eyes, she heard Mrs. Fotheringham 
describe the news as 'on the whole very satisfactory/ 
The nation required the lesson. Whereupon Diana's 
tongue was loosed and would not be quieted. She 
dwelt hotly on the 'sniping/ the treacheries, the mid- 
night murders which had preceded the expedition. 
Mrs. Fotheringham listened to her with flashing looks, 
and suddenly she broke into a denunciation of war, the 
military spirit, and the ignorant and unscrupulous 
persons at home, especially women, who aid and abet 
politicians in violence and iniquity, the passion of 
which soon struck Diana dumb. Here was no honour- 
able fight of equal minds. She was being punished for 
[ 94 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her advocacy of the night before, by an'older woman 
of tyrannical temper, toward whom she stood in the 
relation of guest to host. It was in vain to look round 
for defenders. The only man present was Mr. Barton, 
who sat listening with ill-concealed smiles to what was 
going on, without taking part in it. 

Diana extricated herself with as much dignity as she 
could muster, but she was too young to take the matter 
philosophically. She went upstairs burning with 
anger, the tears of hurt feeling in her eyes. It seemed 
to her that Mrs. Fotheringham's attack implied a per- 
sonal dislike; Mr. Marsham's sister had been glad to 
'take it out of her/ To this young cherished creature 
it was almost her first experience of the kind. 

On the way upstairs she paused to look wistfully out 
of a staircase window. Still raining alack ! She 
thought with longing of the open fields, and the shoot- 
ers. Was there to be no escape all day from the ugly 
oppressive house, and some of its inmates ? Half shyly, 
yet with a quickening of the heart, she remembered 
Marsham's farewell to her of that morning, his look of 
the night before. Intellectually, she was compar- 
atively mature ; in other respects, as inexperienced and 
impressionable as any convent girl. 

'I fear luncheon is impossible!' said Lady Lucy's 
voice. 

Diana looked up and saw her descending the stairs. 

'Such a pity! Oliver will be so disappointed.' 

She paused beside her guest an attractive and 

distinguished figure. On her white hair she wore a lace 

cap which was tied very precisely under her delicate 

chin. Her dress, of black satin, was made in a full plain 

[ 95 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

fashion of her own ; she had long since ceased to allow 
her dressmaker any voice in it ; and her still beautiful 
hands flashed with diamonds, not however in any 
vulgar profusion. 

Lady Lucy's mother had been of a Quaker family, 
and though Quakerism in her had been deeply alloyed 
with other metals, the moral and intellectual self- 
dependence of Quakerism, its fastidious reserves and 
discrimination, were very strong in her. Discrimina- 
tion indeed was the note of her being. For every 
Christian, some Christian precepts are obsolete. For 
Lady Lucy that which runs 'Judge not !' had 
never been alive. 

Her emphatic reference to Marsham had brought 
the ready colour to Diana's cheeks. 

'Yes there seems no chance!' she said, shyly, 
and regretfully, as the rain beat on the window. 

' Oh, dear me, yes ! ' said a voice behind them. 'The 
glass is going up. It'll be a fine afternoon and we'll 
go and meet them at Holme Copse. Shan't we, Lady 
Lucy?' 

Mr. Ferrier appeared, coming up from the library 
laden with papers. The three stood chatting together 
on the broad gallery which ran round the hall. The 
kindness of the two elders was so marked that Diana's 
spirits returned ; she was not to be quite a pariah it 
seemed ! As she walked away toward her room, Mr. 
Ferrier's eyes pursued her the slim round figure, 
the young loveliness of her head and neck. 

'Well! what are you thinking about her?' he 
said, eagerly, turning to the mistress of the house. 

Lady Lucy smiled. 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I should prefer it if she did n't talk politics/ she 
said, with the slightest possible stiffness. 'But she 
seems a very charming girl/ 

'She talks politics, my dear lady, because living 
alone with her father and with her books, she has 
had nothing else to talk about but politics and books. 
Would you rather she talked scandal or Monte 
Carlo?' 

The Quaker in Lady Lucy laughed. 

'Of course if she married Oliver, she would sub- 
ordinate her opinions to his/ 

'Would she!' said Mr. Ferrier 'I'm not so 
sure!' 

Lady Lucy replied that if not, it would be calam- 
itous. In which she spoke sincerely. For although now 
the ruler, and, if the truth were known, the somewhat 
despotic ruler of Tallyn, in her husband's lifetime she 
had known very well how to obey. 

'I have asked various people about the Mallorys/ 
she resumed. ' But nobody seems to be able to tell me 
anything.' 

' I trace her to Sir Thomas of that ilk. Why not? It 
is a Welsh name!' 

'I have no idea who her mother was/ said Lady 
Lucy, musing. 'Her father was very refined quite 
a gentleman/ 

' She bears, I think, very respectable witness to her 
mother/ laughed Ferrier. 'Good stock on both sides; 
she carries it in her face/ 

'That's all I ask/ said Lady Lucy, quietly. 

'But that you do ask!' Her companion looked at 
her with an eye half affectionate, half ironic. 'Most 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

exclusive of women ! I sometimes wish I might unveil 
your real opinions to the Radical fellows who come 
here.' 

Lady Lucy coloured faintly. 

'That has nothing to do with politics.' 

'Hasn't it? I can't imagine anything that has 
more to do with them.' 

' I was thinking of character honourable tradition 
not blood/ 

Ferrier shook his head. 

'Won't do. Barton would n't pass you "A man's 
a man for a' that ' ' and a woman too/ 

'Then I 'm a Tory!' said Lady Lucy, with a smile 
that shot pleasantly through her grey eyes. 

'At last you confess it!' cried Ferrier, as he carried 
off his papers. 

But his gaiety soon departed. He stood a while 
at the window in his room, looking out upon the 
sodden park a rather grey and sombre figure. 
Over his ugly impressiveness a veil of weariness had 
dropped. Politics and the strife of parties, the devices 
of enemies and the dissatisfaction of friends his 
soul was tired of them. And the emergence of this 
possible love-affair for the moment, ardent and 
deep as were the man's affections and sympathies, to- 
ward this Marsham household, it did but increase his 
sense of moral fatigue. If the flutter in the blood - 
and the long companionship of equal love if these 
were the only things of real value in life how had 
his been worth living? 



CHAPTER V 

THE last covert had been shot, and as Marsham and 
his party, followed by scattered groups of beaters, 
turned homeward over the few fields that separated 
them from the park, figures appeared coming toward 
them in the rosy dusk Mr. Ferrier and Diana in 
front, with most of the other guests of the house in 
their train. There was a merry fraternisation between 
the two parties a characteristic English scene, in a 
characteristic setting : the men in their tweed shooting- 
suits, some with their guns over their shoulders, for the 
most part young and tall, clean-limbed and clear-eyed, 
the well-to-do Englishman at his most English mo- 
ment, and brimming with the joy of life ; the girls dressed 
in the same tweed stuffs, and with the same skilled and 
expensive simplicity, but wearing, some of them, over 
their cloth caps, bright veils, white or green or blue, 
which were tied under their chins, and framed faces 
aglow with exercise and health. 

Marsham 's eyes flew to Diana, who was in black, 
with a white veil. Some of the natural curls on her 
temples, which reminded him of a Vandyck picture, 
had been a little blown by the wind across her beautiful 
brow ; he liked the touch of wildness that they gave ; 
and he was charmed anew by the contrast between her 
frank young strength, and the wistful look, so full of 
relation to all about it, as though seeking to understand 
and be one with it. He perceived too her childish 
pleasure in each fresh incident and experience of the 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

English winter, which proved to her anew that she 
had come home ; and he flattered himself, as he went 
straight to her side, that his coming had at least no 
dimming effect on the radiance that had been there 
before. 

' I believe you are not pining for the Mediterranean ! ' 
he said, laughing, as they walked on together. 

In a smiling silence she drew in a great breath of the 
frosty air while her eyes ranged along the chalk down, 
on the western edge of which they were walking, and 
then over the plain at their feet, the smoke-wreaths 
that hung abve the villages, the western sky filled 
stormily with the purples and greys and crimsons of 
the sunset, the woods that climbed the down, or ran 
in a dark rampart along its crest. 

'No one can ever love it as much as I do!' she 
said at last ' because I have been an exile. That will 
be my advantage always.' 

'Your compensation perhaps.' 

' Mrs. Colwood puts it that way. Only I don't like 
having my grievance taken away.' 

'Against whom?' 

'Ah! not against papa!' she said, hurriedly 
'against Fate!' 

' If you dislike being deprived of a grievance so 
do I. You have returned me my Rossetti.' 

She laughed merrily. 

'You made sure I should lose or keep it?' 

'It is the first book that anybody has returned to 
me for years. I was quite resigned.' 

'To a damaging estimate of my character? Thank 
you very much!' 

[ 100 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I wonder' he said, in another tone 'what sort 
of estimate you have of my character false, or true? ' 

'Well, there have been a great many surprises !' said 
Diana, raising her eyebrows. 

'In the matter of my character?' 

'Not altogether/ 

'My surroundings? You mean I talked Radicalism 
or as you would call it, Socialism to you at 
Portofino, and here you find me in the character of 
a sporting Squire ? ' 

'I hear' she said, deliberately looking about her 
'that this is the finest shoot in the county/ 

' It is. There is no denying it. But, in the first place, 
it's my mother's shoot, not mine the estate is hers, 
not mine and she wishes old customs to be kept up. 
In the next well, of course, the truth is that I like 
it abominably!' 

He had thrust his cap into his pocket, and was walk- 
ing bareheaded . In the glow of the evening air his strong 
manhood seemed to gain an added force and vitality. 
He moved beside her, magnified and haloed, as it were, 
by the dusk and the sunset. Yet his effect upon her 
was no mere physical effect of good looks and a fine 
stature. It was rather the effect of a personality which 
strangely fitted with and evoked her own of that 
congruity, indeed, from which all else springs. 

She laughed at his confession. 

' I hear also that you are the best shot in the neigh- 
bourhood/ 

'Who has been talking to you about me?' he asked, 
with a slight knitting of the brows. 

'Mr. Ferrier a little." 

[ 101 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

He gave an impatient sigh, so disproportionate to 
the tone of their conversation, that Diana looked at 
him in sudden surprise. 

' Have n't you often wondered how it is that the 
very people who know you best know you least?' 

The question was impetuously delivered. Diana re- 
called Mr. Forbes's remarks as to dissensions behind 
the scenes. She stepped cautiously. 

'I thought Mr. Ferrier knew everything!' 

' I wish he knew something about his party and 
the House of Commons!' cried Marsham, as though a 
passion within leapt to the surface. 

The startled eyes beside him beguiled him further. 

' I did n't mean to say anything indiscreet or dis- 
loyal,' he said, with a smile, recovering himself. 'It is 
often the greatest men who cling to the old world 
when the new is clamouring. But the new means to be 
heard all the same.' 

Diana's colour flashed. 

' I would rather be in that old world with Mr. Ferrier 
than in the new with Mr. Barton!' 

'What is the use of talking of preferences? The 
world is what it is and will be what it will be. Bar- 
ton is our master Ferrier's and mine. The point is 
to come to terms, and make the best of it/ 

' No ! the point is to hold the gate ! and die 
on the threshold, if need be/ 

They had come to a stile. Marsham had crossed it, 
and Diana mounted. Her young form showed sharply 
against the west ; he looked into her eyes, divided be- 
tween laughter and feeling; she gave him her hand. 
The man's pulses leapt anew. He was naturally of a 
[ 102 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

cool and self-possessed temperament the life of the 
brain much stronger in him than the life of the senses. 
But at that moment he recognised as perhaps, for 
the first time, the night before that Nature and 
youth had him at last in grip. At the same time the 
remembrance of a walk over the same ground that he 
had taken in the autumn with Alicia Drake flashed, 
unwelcomed, into his mind. It stirred a half -uneasy, 
half -laughing compunction. He could not flatter him- 
self yet that his cousin had forgotten it. 

'What gate? and what threshold?' he asked 
Diana, as they moved on. 'If you mean the gate of 
power it is too late. Democracy is in the citadel 
and has run up its own flag. Or to take another meta- 
phor the Whirlwind is in possession the only 
question is who shall ride it!' 

Diana declared that the Socialists would ride it to 
the abyss with England on the crupper. 

'Magnificent!' said Marsham, 'but merely rhetor- 
ical. Besides all that we ask is that Ferrier should 
ride it. Let him only try the beast and he will find 
it tame enough/ 

'And if he won't?' 

'Ah, if he won't ' said Marsham, uncertainly, and 
paused. In the growing darkness she could no longer 
see his face plainly. But presently he resumed, more 
earnestly and simply : 

' Don't misunderstand me ! Ferrier is our chief 
my chief, above all and one does not even discuss 
whether one is loyal to him. The party owes him an 
enormous debt. As for myself ' He drew a long 
breath, which was again a sigh. 
[ 103 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Then with a change of manner, and in a lighter tone : 
* I seem to have given myself away to an enemy ! ' 
'Poor enemy!' 

He looked at her, half laughing, half anxious. 
' Tell me ! last night you thought me intolerant 

overbearing?' 

'I disliked being beaten/ said Diana, candidly; 'es- 
pecially as it was only my ignorance that was beaten 

not my cause/ 
'Shall we begin again?' 

Through his gaiety, however, a male satisfaction in 
victory pierced very plainly. Diana winced a little. 

'No, no! I must go back to Captain Roughsedge 
first and get some new arguments!' 

'Roughsedge!' he said, in surprise. 'Roughsedge? 
He never carried an argument through in his life !' 

Diana defended her new friend to ears unsympa- 
thetic. Her defence, indeed, evoked from him a series 
of the same impatient, sarcastic remarks on the subject 
of the neighbours as had scandalised her the day before. 
She fired up, and they were soon in the midst of an- 
other battle-royal, partly on the merits of particular 
persons and partly on a more general theme the ad- 
vantage or disadvantage of an optimist view of your 
fellow-creatures. 

Marsham was, before long, hard put to it in argu- 
ment, and very delicately and discreetly convicted of 
arrogance or worse. They were entering the woods of 
the park when he suddenly stopped and said : 

' Do you know that you have had a jolly good re- 
venge pressed down and running over?' 

Diana smiled, and said nothing. She had delighted 
[ 104 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

in the encounter; so, in spite of castigation, had he. 
There surged up in him a happy excited consciousness 
of quickened life and hurrying hours. He looked with 
distaste at the nearness of the house ; and at the group 
of figures which had paused in front of them, waiting 
for them, on the further edge of the broad lawn. 

'You have convicted me of an odious, exclusive, 
bullying temper or you think you have and all 
you will allow me in the way of victory is that I got the 
best of it because Captain Roughsedge was n't there!' 

' Not at all. I respect your critical faculty ! ' 

' You wish to hear me gush like Mrs. Minchin. It is 
simply astounding the number of people you like ! ' 

Diana's laugh broke into a sigh. 

' Perhaps it 's like a hungry boy in a goody-shop. He 
wants to eat them all.' 

'Were you so very solitary as a child?' he asked her, 
gently, in a changed tone, which was itself an act of 
homage, almost a caress. 

'Yes I was very solitary/ she said, after a pause. 
'And I am really gregarious dreadfully fond of 
people ! and curious about them. And I think, 
oddly enough, papa was too.' 

A question rose naturally to his lips, but was 
checked unspoken. He well remembered Mr. Mallory 
at Portofino ; a pleasant, courteous man, evidently by 
nature a man of the world, interested in affairs and in 
literature, with all the signs on him of the English gov- 
erning class. It was certainly curious that he should 
have spent all those years in exile with his child, in a 
remote villa on the Italian coast. Health, Marsham 
supposed, or finance the two chief motives of life. 
[ 105 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

For himself, the thought of Diana's childhood between 
the pine woods and the sea gave him pleasure ; it added 
another to the poetical and romantic ideas which she 
suggested. There came back on him the plash of the 
waves beneath the Portofino headland, the murmur of 
the pines, the fragrance of the underwood. He felt the 
kindred between all these and her maidenly energy, 
her unspoilt beauty. 

' One moment ! ' he said, as they began to cross the 
lawn.' 'Has my sister attacked you yet?' 

The smile with which the words were spoken could 
be heard, though not seen. Diana laughed, a little 
awkwardly. 

' I am afraid Mrs. Fotheringham thinks me a child of 
blood and thunder ! I am so sorry ! ' 

' If she presses you too hard, call me in. Isabel and 
I understand each other/ 

Diana murmured something polite. 

Mr. Frobisher meanwhile came to meet them with 
a remark upon the beauty of the evening, and Alicia 
Drake followed. 

' I expect you found it a horrid long way/ she said to 
Diana. Diana disclaimed fatigue. 

' You came so slowly, we thought you must be tired/ 

Something in the drawling manner and the slightly 
insolent expression made the words sting. Diana hur- 
ried on to Marion Vincent's side. That lady was lean- 
ing on a stick, and for the first time Diana saw that she 
was slightly lame. She looked up with a pleasant 
smile and greeting; but before they could move on 
across the ample drive, Mr. Frobisher overtook them. 

' Won't you take my arm ? ' he said, in a low voice. 
[ 106 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Miss Vincent slipped her hand inside his arm, and 
rested on him. He supported her with what seemed to 
Diana a tender carefulness, his head bent to hers, while 
he talked and she replied. 

Diana followed, her girl's heart kindling. 

' Surely ! surely ! they are in love ? engaged ? ' 

But no one else appeared to take any notice or made 
any remark. 

Long did the memory of the evening which followed 
live warm in the heart of Diana. It was to her an even- 
ing of triumph triumph innocent, harmless, and 
complete. Her charm, her personality had by now 
captured the whole party, save for an opposition of 
three and the three realised that they had for the 
moment no chance of influencing the popular voice. 
The rugged face of Mr. Barton stiffened as she ap- 
proached ; it seemed to him that the night before he 
had been snubbed by a chit, and he was not the man to 
forget it easily. Alicia Drake was a little pale and a 
little silent during the evening, till, late in its course, 
she succeeded in carrying off a group of young men 
who had come for the shoot and were staying the night, 
and in establishing a noisy court among them. Mrs. 
Fotheringham disapproved, by now, of almost every- 
thing that concerned Miss Mallory: of her taste in 
music or in books ; of the touch of effusion in her man- 
ner, which was of course 'affected' or 'aristocratic' ; of 
the enthusiasms she did not possess, no less than of 
those she did. On the sacred subject of the suffrage, for 
instance, which with Mrs. Fotheringham was a matter 
for propaganda everywhere and at all times, Diana was 
[ 107 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

but a cracked cymbal; when struck she gave back 
either no sound at all, or a wavering one. Her beauti- 
ful eyes were blank or hostile ; she would escape like a 
fawn from the hunter. As for other politics, no one but 
Mrs. Fotheringham dreamt of introducing them. She, 
however, would have discovered many ways of drag- 
ging them in, and of setting down Diana ; but here her 
brother was on the watch, and time after time she 
found herself checked or warded off. 

Diana, indeed, was well defended. The more ill- 
humoured Mrs. Fotheringham grew, the more Lady 
Niton enjoyed the evening and her own 'Nitonisms.' 
It was she who after dinner suggested the clearing of 
the hall and an impromptu dance on the ground 
that 'girls must waltz for their living.' And when 
Diana proved to be one of those in whom dancing is a 
natural and shining gift, so that even the gilded youths 
of the party, who were perhaps inclined to fight shy of 
Miss Mallory as 'a girl who talked clever/ even they 
came crowding about her, like flies about a milk-pail 
it was Lady Niton who drew Isabel Fotheringham's 
attention to it loudly and repeatedly. It was she also 
who, at a pause in the dancing and at a hint from Mrs. 
Colwood, insisted on making Diana sing, to the grand 
piano which had been pushed into a corner of the hall. 
And when the singing, helped by the looks and person- 
ality of the singer, had added to the girl's success, Lady 
Niton sat fanning herself in reflected triumph, appeal- 
ing to the spectators on all sides for applause. The 
topics that Diana fled from, Lady Niton took up ; and 
when Mrs. Fotheringham, bewildered by an avalanche 
of words, would say 'Give me time, please, Lady 
[ 108 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Niton I must think!' Lady Niton would reply, 
coolly 'Not unless you're accustomed to it' ; while 
she finally capped her misdeeds by insisting that it was 
no good to say Mr. Barton had a warm heart if he were 
without that much more useful possession a narrow 
mind. 

Thus buttressed and befriended on almost all sides, 
Diana drank her cup of pleasure. Once in an interval 
between two dances, as she passed on Oliver Mar- 
sham's arm, close to Lady Lucy, that lady put up her 
frail old hand, and gently touched Diana's. 'Do not 
overtire yourself, my dear!' she said, with effusion; 
and Oliver, looking down, knew very well what his 
mother's rare effusion meant, if Diana did not. On 
several occasions Mr. Ferrier sought her out, with 
every mark of flattering attention, while it often 
seemed to Diana as if the protecting kindness of Sir 
James Chide was never far away. In her white in- 
genue's dress she was an embodiment of youth, sim- 
plicity, and joy, such as perhaps our grandmothers 
knew more commonly than we, in our more hurried 
and complex day. And at the same time there floated 
round her something more than youth something 
more thrilling and challenging than mere girlish de- 
light an effluence, a passion, a 'swell of soul,' which 
made this dawn of her life more bewitching even for its 
promise than for its performance. 

For Marsham, too, the hours flew. He was carried 
away, enchanted ; he had eyes for no one, time for no 
one but Diana ; and before the end of the evening the 
gossip among the Tallyn guests ran fast and free. 
When at last the dance broke up, many a curious eye 
[ 109 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

watched the parting between Marsham and Diana; 
and in their bedroom on the top floor Lady Lucy's two 
nieces sat up till the small hours discussing, first, the 
situation was Oliver really caught at last? and 
then, Alicia's refusal to discuss it. She had said bluntly 
that she was dog-tired and shut her door upon them. 

On a hint from his mother, Marsham went to say 
good-night to her in her room. She threw her arms 
round his neck, whispering : ' Dear Oliver ! dear 
Oliver ! I just wished you to know if it is as I 
think that you had my blessing/ 

He drew back, a little shrinking and reluctant yet 
still flushed, as it were, with the last rays Diana's sun 
had shed upon him. 

'Things must n't be hurried, mother/ 

'No no they shan't. But you know how I have 
wished to see you happy how ambitious I have been 
for you!' 

' Yes, mother, I know. You have been always very 
good to me.' 

He had recovered his composure, and stood hold- 
ing her hand and smiling at her. 

' What a charming creature, Oliver ! It is a pity, of 
course, her father has indoctrinated her with those 
opinions, but ' 

'Opinions!' he said, scornf ully - - ' what do they 
matter ! ' But he could not discuss Diana. His blood 
was still too hot within him. 

' Of course of course ! ' said Lady Lucy, soothingly. 
' She is so young she will develop. But what a wife, 
Oliver, she will make how she might help a man on 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

with her talents and her beauty and her refinement. 
She has such dignity, too, for her years/ 
He made no reply, except to repeat : 
'Don't hurry it, mother don't hurry it.' 
'No no' she said, laughing ' I am not such 
a fool. There will be many natural opportunities of 
meeting.' 

'There are some difficulties with the Vavasours. 
They have been disagreeable about the gardens. Fer- 
rier and I have promised to go over and advise her.' 

'Good!' said Lady Lucy, delighted that the Vava- 
sours had been disagreeable. 'Good -night, my son, 
good-night ! ' 

A minute later Oliver stood meditating in his own 
room, where he had just donned his smoking-jacket. 
By one of the natural ironies of life, at a moment when 
he was more in love than he had ever been yet, he was, 
nevertheless, thinking eagerly of prospects and of 
money. Owing to his peculiar relation to his mother, 
and his father's estate, marriage would be to him no 
mere satisfaction of a personal passion. It would be 
a vital incident in a politician's career, to whom larger 
means and greater independence were now urgently 
necessary. To marry with his mother's full approval 
would at last bring about that provision for himself 
which his father's will had most unjustly postponed. 
He was monstrously dependent upon her. It had been 
one of the chief checks on a strong and concentrated 
ambition. But Lady Lucy had long made him under- 
stand that to marry according to her wishes would 
mean emancipation : a much larger income in the pre- 
sent, and the final settlement of her will in his favour. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

It was amazing how she had taken to Diana! Diana 
had only to accept him, and his future was secured. 

But though thoughts of this kind passed in tumultu- 
ous procession through the grooves of consciousness, 
they were soon expelled by others. Marsham was no 
mere interested schemer. Diana should help him to his 
career ; but above all and before all she was the ador- 
able brown-eyed creature, whose looks had just been 
shining upon him, whose soft hand had just been lin- 
gering in his ! As he stood alone and spellbound in the 
dark, yielding himself to the surging waves of feeling 
which broke over his mind, the thought, the dream, 
of holding Diana Mallory in his arms of her head 
against his breast came upon him with a sudden 
and stinging delight. 

Yet the delight was under control the control of 
a keen and practical intelligence. There rose in him a 
sharp sense of the unfathomed depths and possibilities 
in such a nature as Diana's. Once or twice that even- 
ing, through all her sweet forthcomingness, when he 
had forced the note a little, she had looked at him in 
sudden surprise or shrinking. No ! nothing prema- 
ture ! It seemed to him, as it had seemed to Bobbie 
Forbes, that she could only be won by the slow and 
gradual conquest of a rich personality. He set himself 
to the task. 

Downstairs Mr. Ferrier and Sir James Chide were 
sitting together in a remote corner of the hall. Mr. 
Ferrier, in great good-humour with the state of things, 
was discussing Oliver's chances, confidentially, with his 
old friend. Sir James sat smoking in silence. He list- 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ened to Ferrier's praises of Miss Mallory, to his gen- 
erous appreciation of Marsham's future, to his specu- 
lations as to what Lady Lucy would do for her son, 
upon his marriage, or as to the part which a creature so 
brilliant and so winning as Diana might be expected to 
play in London and in political life. 

Sir James said little or nothing. He knew Lady 
Lucy well, and had known her long. . Presently he rose 
abruptly and went upstairs to bed. 

' Ought I to speak? ' he asked himself, in an agony of 
doubt. 'Perhaps a word to Ferrier ?' 

No ! impossible ! impossible ! And yet, as he 
mounted the stairs, over the house which had just 
seen the triumph of Diana, over that radiant figure 
itself, the second-sight of the great lawyer perceived 
the brooding of a cloud of fate ; nor could he do any- 
thing to avert or soften its downfall. 

Meanwhile Diana's golden hour had found an unex- 
pected epilogue. After her good-night to Marsham she 
was walking along the gallery corridor going towards 
her room, when she perceived Miss Vincent in front 
of her moving slowly and, as it seemed, with difficulty. 
A sudden impulse made Diana fly after her. 

' Do let me help you ! ' she said, shyly. 

Marion Vincent smiled, and put her hand in the girl's 
arm. 

'How do people manage to live at all in these big 
houses, and with dinner-parties every night !' she said, 
laughing. 'After a day in the East End I am never 
half so tired.' 

She was indeed so pale that Diana was rather fright- 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ened, and remembering that in the afternoon she had 
seen Miss Vincent descend from an upper floor, she of- 
fered a rest in her own room, which was close by, before 
the evidently lame woman attempted further stairs. 

Marion Vincent hesitated a moment, then accepted. 
Diana hurried up a chair to the fire, installed her there, 
and herself sat on the floor watching her guest with 
some anxiety. 

Yet, as she did so, she felt a certain antagonism. 
The face, of which the eyes were now closed, was nobly 
grave. The expression of its deeply marked lines ap- 
pealed to her heart. But why this singularity this 
eccentricity ? Miss Vincent wore the same dress of dark 
woollen stuff, garnished with white frills, in which 
she had appeared the night before, and her morning 
attire, as Mr. Frobisher had foretold, had consisted of 
a precisely similar garment, adorned with a straight 
collar instead of frills. Surely a piece of acting ! of 
unnecessary self-assertion ! 

Yet all through the day and the evening 
Diana had been conscious of this woman's presence, in 
a strange, penetrating way, even when they had had 
least to do with each other. In the intervals of her own 
joyous progress she had been often aware of Miss Vin- 
cent sitting apart, sometimes with Mr. Frobisher, who 
was reading or talking to her, sometimes with Lady 
Lucy, and during the dance with John Barton. 
Barton might have been the Jeremiah or the Ezekiel 
of the occasion. He sat astride upon a chair, in his 
respectable workman's clothes, his eyes under their 
shaggy brows, his weather-beaten features and com- 
pressed lips expressing an ill-concealed contempt for 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the scene before him. It was rumoured that he had 
wished to depart before dinner, having concluded his 
consultation with Mr. Ferrier, but that Mrs. Fother- 
ingham had persuaded him to remain for the night. 
His presence seemed to make dancing a misdemeanour, 
and the rich house, with its services and appurtenances, 
an organised crime. But if his personality was the 
storm-point of the scene, charged with potential light- 
ning, Marion Vincent's was the still small voice, with- 
out threat or bitterness, which every now and then 
spoke to a quick imagination like Diana's its message 
from a world of poverty and pain. And sometimes 
Diana had been startled by the perception that the 
message seemed to be specially for her. Miss Vincent's 
eyes followed her ; whenever Diana passed near her, she 
smiled she admired. But always, as it seemed to 
Diana with a meaning behind the smile. Yet what 
that meaning might be the girl could not tell. 

At last, as she watched her, Marion Vincent looked 
up. 

' Mr. Barton would talk to me just now about the his- 
tory of his own life. I suppose it was the dance and the 
supper excited him. He began to testify ! Sometimes 
when he does that he is magnificent. He said some fine 
things to-night. But I am run down and could n't 
stand it.' 

Diana asked if Mr. Barton had himself gone through 
a great struggle with poverty. 

'The usual struggle. No more than thousands of 
others. Only in him it is vocal he can reflect upon it. 
You had an easy triumph over him last night/ she 
added, with a smile, turning to her companion. 




THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Who wouldn't have?' cried Diana. 'What out- 
rageous things he said!' 

' He does n't know much about India or the Col- 
onies. He has n't travelled ; he reads very little. He 
showed badly. But on his own subjects he is good 
enough. I have known him impress or convert the 
most unlikely people by nothing but a bare sincer- 
ity. Just now while the servants were handing 
champagne he and I were standing a little way off 
under the gallery. His eyes are weak, and he can't 
bear the glare of all these lights. Suddenly he told me 
the story of his father's death/ 

She paused, and drew her hand across her eyes. 
Diana saw that they were wet. But although startled, 
the girl held herself a little aloof and erect, as though 
ready at a moment's notice to defend herself against a 
softening which might involve a treachery to glorious 
and sacred things. 

'It so chanced' Miss Vincent resumed 'that 
it had a bearing on experiences of my own just 
now.' 

'You are living in the East End?' 

'At present. I am trying to find out the causes of a 
great wave of poverty and unemployment in a particu- 
lar district.' She named it. 'It is hard work 
and not particularly good for the nerves.' 

She smiled, but at the same moment she turned ex- 
tremely white, and as she fell back in her chair, Diana 
saw her clinch her hand as though in a strong effort for 
physical self-control. 

Diana sprang up. 

' Let me get you some water ! ' 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Don't go. Don't tell anybody. Just open that win- 
dow/ 

Diana obeyed, and the northwest wind, sweeping 
in, seemed to revive her pale companion almost at 
once. 

'I am very sorry!' said Miss Vincent, after a few 
minutes, in her natural voice. 'Now I am all right.' 
She drank some water, and looked up. 'Shall I tell 
you the story he told me? It is very short, and it 
might change your view of him.' 

'If you feel able if you are strong enough,' said 
Diana, uncomfortably, wondering why it should mat- 
ter to Miss Vincent or anybody else what view she 
might happen to take of Mr. Barton. 

' He said he remembered his father (who was a house- 
painter a very decent and hard-working man) hav- 
ing been out of work for eight weeks. He used to go 
out looking for work every day and there was the 
usual story, of course, of pawning or selling all their 
possessions odd jobs increasing starvation and 
so on. Meanwhile, his only pleasure he was ten 
was to go with his sister after school to look at two shops 
in the East India Dock Road one a draper's with 
a "Christmas Bazaar" the other a confectioner's. 
He declares it made him not more starved, but less, t'o 
look at the goodies and the cakes ; they imagined eat- 
ing them; but they were both too sickly, he thinks, to 
be really hungry. As for the bazaar, with its dolls and 
toys, and its Father Christmas, and bright lights, they 
both thought it paradise. They used to flatten their 
noses against the glass ; sometimes a shopman drove 
them away ; but they came back and back. At last the 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

iron shutters would come down slowly. Then he 
and his sister would stoop and stoop to get a last 
look. Presently there would be only a foot of bliss left ; 
then they both sank down flat on their stomachs on 
the pavement, and so stayed greedily till all was 
dark, and paradise had been swallowed up. Well, one 
night, the show had been specially gorgeous ; they took 
hands afterwards, and ran home. Their father had just 
come in. Mr. Barton can remember his staggering into 
the room. I '11 give it in his words. " Mother, have you 
got anything in the house?" "Nothing, Tom." And 
mother began to cry. "Not a bit of bread, mother?" 
"I gave the last bit to the children for their teas." 
Father said nothing, but he lay down on the bed. Then 
he called me. " Johnnie, " he said, " I 've got work for 
next week but I shan't never go to it it's too 
late," and then he asked me to hold his hand, and 
turned his face on the pillow. When my mother came 
to look, he was dead. " Starvation and exhaustion" 
the doctor said/ 

Marion Vincent paused. 

'It's just like any other story of the kind is n't 
it?' Her smile turned on Diana. 'The charitable socie- 
ties and missions send them out by scores in their ap- 
peals. But somehow as he told it just now, downstairs, 
in that glaring hall, with the champagne going round 
it seemed intolerable/ 

' And you mean also ' said Diana, slowly ' that a 
man with that history can't know or care very much 
about the Empire?' 

'Our minds are all picture-books,' said the woman 
beside her, in a low, dreamy voice: 'it depends upon 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

what the pictures are. To you the words ' ' England ' ' 
and the" Empire " represent one set of pictures all 
bright and magnificent like the Christmas Bazaar. 
To John Barton and me' she smiled 'they repre- 
sent another. We too have seen the lights, and the 
candles, and the toys ; we have admired them, as you 
have ; but we know the reality is not there. The reality 
is in the dark streets, where men tramp, looking for 
work ; it is in the rooms where their wives and children 
live stifled and hungry the rooms where our working 
folk die without having lived/ 

Her eyes above her pale cheeks, had opened to their 
fullest extent the eyes of a seer. They held Diana. 
So did the voice, which was the voice of one in whom 
tragic passion and emotion are for ever wearing away 
the physical frame, as the sea waves break down a 
crumbling shore. 

Suddenly Diana bent over her, and took her 
hands. 

' I wonder why you thought me worth talking to like 
this?' she said, impetuously. 

' I liked you ! ' said Marion Vincent, simply. ' I liked 
you as you talked last night. Only I wanted to add 
some more pictures to your picture-book. Your set 
the popular one is called The Glories of England. 
There is another I recommend it to you : The Shames 
of England.' 

' You think poverty a disgrace ? ' murmured Diana, 
held by the glowing fanatical look of the speaker. 

' Our poverty is a disgrace the life of our poor is 
a disgrace. What does the Empire matter what do 
Afghan campaigns matter while London is rotten? 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

However' (she smiled again, and caressed Diana's 
hand), 'will you make friends with me?' 

'Is it worth while for you?' said Diana, laughing. 
' I shall always prefer my picture-book to yours, I am 
afraid. And I am not poor and I don't give all 
my money away.' 

Miss Vincent surveyed her gaily. 

'Well, I come here' (she looked significantly round 
the luxurious room), 'and I am very good friends with 
the Marshams. Oliver Marsham is one of the persons 
from whom I hope most.' 

' Not in pulling down wealth and property ! ' cried 
Diana. 

'Why not? Every revolution has its Philippe Egal- 
ite". Oh, it will come slowly it will come slowly,' 
said the other, quietly. 'And of course there will be 
tragedy there always is in everything. But not, 
I hope, for you never for you !' 

And once more her hand dropped softly on Diana's. 

'You were happy to-night? you enjoyed the 
dance?' 

The question, so put, with such a look, from another 
mouth, would have been an impertinence. Diana 
shrank, but could not resent it. Yet, against her will, 
she flushed deeply. 

'Yes. It was. delightful. I did not expect to enjoy 
it so much, but - 

'But you did! That's well. That's good!' 

Marion Vincent rose feebly. And as she stood, lean- 
ing on the chair, she touched the folds of Diana's white 
dress. 

/When shall I see you again? and that dress?' 
[ 120 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I shall be in London in May,' said Diana, eagerly 
'May I come then? You must tell me where/ 

'Ah ! you won't come to Bethnal Green in that dress. 
What a pity!' 

Diana helped her to her room, where they shook 
hands and parted. Then Diana came back to her own 
quarters. She had put out the electric light for Miss 
Vincent's sake. The room was lit only by the fire. In 
the full-length mirror of the toilet-table Diana saw her 
own white reflexion, and the ivy leaves in her hair. The 
absence of her mourning was first a pain ; then the joy 
of the evening surged up again. Oh, was it wrong, was 
it wrong to be happy in this world ' where men sit 
and hear each other groan'? She clasped her hands to 
her soft breast, as though defending the warmth, the 
hope that were springing there, against any dark pro- 
testing force that might threaten to take them from 
her. 






CHAPTER VI 

HENRY/ said Mrs. Roughsedge to her husband, 'I 
think it would do you good to walk to Beechcote.' 

'No, my dear, no! I have many proofs to get 
through before dinner. Take Hugh. Only ' 

Doctor Roughsedge, smiling, held up a beckoning 
finger. His wife approached. 

' Don't let him fall in love with that young woman. 
It's no good/ 

'Well, she must marry somebody, Henry.' 

'Big fishes mate with big fishes minnows with 
minnows.' 

' Don't run down your own son, sir. Who, pray, is 
too good for him?' 

'The world is divided into wise men, fools, and mo- 
thers. The characters of the first two are mingled 
disproportionately in the last,' said Doctor Rough- 
sedge, patiently enduring the kiss his wife inflicted on 
him. ' Don't kiss me, Patricia don't tread on my 
proofs go away and tell Jane not to forget my 
tea because you have gone out.' 

Mrs. Roughsedge departed, and the Doctor, who was 
devoted to her, sank at once into that disorderly welter 
of proofs and smoke which represented to him the best 
of the day. The morning he reserved for hard work, 
and during the course of it he smoked but one pipe. A 
quotation from Fuller which was often on his lips ex- 
pressed his point of view : ' Spill not the morning, which 
[ 122 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

is the quintessence of the day, in recreation. For sleep 
itself is a recreation. And to open the morning thereto 
is to add sauce to sauce/ 

But in the afternoon he gave himself to all the de- 
lightful bye-tasks : the works of supererogation, the ex- 
cursions into side paths, the niggling with proofs, the 
toying with style, the potterings and polishings, the 
ruminations, and rewritings and refinements which 
make the joy of the man of letters. For five-and- 
twenty years he had been a busy Cambridge coach, 
tied year in and year out to the same strictness of 
hours, the same monotony of subjects, the same pa- 
tient drumming on thick heads and dull brains. Now 
that was all over. A brother had left him a little 
money ; he had saved the rest. At sixty he had begun 
to live. He was editing a series of reprints for the Cam- 
bridge University Press, and what mortal man could 
want more than a good wife and son, a cottage to live in, 
a fair cook, unlimited pipes, no debts, and the best of 
English literature to browse in? The rural afternoon, 
especially, when he smoked and grubbed and divagated 
as he pleased, was alone enough to make the five-and- 
twenty years of 'swink' worth while. 

Mrs. Roughsedge stayed to give very particular or- 
ders to the house-parlourmaid about the Doctor's tea, 
to open a window in the tiny drawing-room, and to put 
up in brown paper a pair of bed-socks that she had 
just finished knitting for an old man in the parish- 
houses. Then she joined her son, who was already 
waiting for her impatiently in the garden. 

Hugh Roughsedge had only just returned from a 
month's stay in London, made necessary by those new 
[ 123 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Army examinations which his soul detested. By dint 
of strenuous coaching he had come off moderately vic- 
torious, and had now returned home for a week's 
extra leave before rejoining his regiment. One of the 
first questions on his tongue, as his mother instantly 
noticed, had been a question as to Miss Mallory. Was 
she still at Beechcote? Had his mother seen anything 
of her? 

Yes, she was still at Beechcote. Mrs. Roughsedge, 
however, had seen her but seldom and slightly since her 
son's departure for London. If she had made one or 
two observations from a distance, with respect to the 
young lady, she withheld them. And like the discern- 
ing mother that she was, at the very first opportunity 
she proposed a call at Beechcote. 

On their way thither, this February afternoon, they 
talked in a desultory way about some new War-Office 
reforms, which, as usual, the entire Army believed to be 
merely intended wilfully and deliberately for its 
destruction; about a recent gambling scandal in the 
regiment, or the peculiarities of Hugh's commanding 
officer. Meanwhile he held his peace on the subject of 
some letters he had received that morning. There was 
to be an expedition in Nigeria. Officers were wanted ; 
and he had volunteered. The result of his application 
was not yet known. He had no intention whatever of 
upsetting his parents till it was known. 

' I wonder how Miss Mallory liked Tallyn/ said Mrs. 
Roughsedge, briskly. 

She had already expressed the same wonder once or 
twice. But as neither she nor her son had any mate- 
rials for deciding the point, the remark hardly pro- 
[ 124 ] 






Stocks, Mrs. Ward's Country Home 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

moted conversation. She added to it another of more 
effect. 

'The Miss Bertrams have already made up their 
minds that she is to marry Oliver Marsham.' 

'The deuce!' cried the startled Roughsedge. 'Beg 
your pardon, mother, but how can those old cats pos- 
sibly know?' 

'They can't know/ said Mrs. Roughsedge, placidly. 
' But as soon as you get a young woman like that into 
the neighbourhood, of course everybody begins to 
speculate.' 

'They mumble any fresh person, like a dog with a 
bone/ said Roughsedge, indignantly. 

They were passing across the broad village street. 
On either hand were old timbered cottages, sun-mel- 
lowed and rain-beaten ; a thatched roof showing here 
and there ; or a bit of mean new building, breaking the 
time-worn line. To their left, keeping watch over the 
graves which encircled it, rose the fourteenth -century 
church ; amid the trees around it rooks were cawing and 
wheeling ; and close beneath it huddled other cottages, 
ivy-grown, about the village well. Afternoon school 
was just over, and the children were skipping and run- 
ning about the streets. Through the cottage doors 
could be seen occasionally the gleam of a fire or a white 
cloth spread for tea. For the womenfolk, at least, 
tea was the great meal of the day in Beechcote. So 
that what with the flickering of the fires, and the sun- 
set light on the windows, the skipping children, the 
dogs, the tea-tables, and the rooks, Beechcote wore a 
cheerful and idyllic air. But Mrs. Roughsedge knew 
too much about these cottages. In this one to the left 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

+ 

a girl had just borne her second illegitimate child ; in 
that one further on were two mentally deficient child- 
ren, the offspring of feeble-minded parents; in the 
next, an old woman, the victim of pernicious anaemia, 
was moaning her life away ; in the last to the right the 
mother of five small children had just died in her sixth 
confinement. Mrs. Roughsedge gave a long sigh as she 
looked at it. The tragedy was but forty -eight hours 
old ; she had sat up with the mother through her dying 
hours. 

'Oh, my dear!' said Mrs. Roughsedge, suddenly - 
'here comes the Vicar. Do you know, it's so unlucky 
and so strange ! but he has certainly taken a dis- 
like to Miss Mallory I believe it was because he had 
hoped some Christian Socialist friends of his would 
have taken Beechcote, and he was disappointed to find 
it let to some one with what he calls 'silly Tory no- 
tions' and no particular ideas about church matters. 
Now there's a regular fuss something about the 
Book Club. I don't understand ' 

The Vicar advanced towards them. He came along 
at a great pace, his lean figure closely sheathed in his 
long clerical coat, his face a little frowning and set. 

At sight of Mrs. Roughsedge he drew up, and 
greeted the mother and son. 

'May I have a few words with you?' he asked Mrs. 
Roughsedge, as he turned back with them toward 
the Beechcote lane. ' I don't know whether you are 
acquainted, Mrs. Roughsedge, with what has just hap- 
pened in the Book Club, to which we both belong?' 

The Book Club was a village institution of some an- 
tiquity. It embraced some ten families, who drew up 
[ 126 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

their Mudie lists in common and sent the books from 
house to house. The Vicar and Doctor Roughsedge 
had been till now mainly responsible for these lists 
so far, at least, as 'serious books' were concerned, 
the ladies being allowed the chief voice in the novels. 

Mrs. Roughsedge, a little fluttered, asked for in- 
formation. 

'Miss Mallory has recommended two books which, 
in my opinion, should not be circulated among us/ said 
the Vicar. ' I have protested in vain. Miss Mallory 
maintains her recommendation. I propose, therefore, 
to withdraw from the Club/ 

'Are they improper?' cried Mrs. Roughsedge, much 
distressed. 

Captain Roughsedge threw an angry look first at 
his mother and then at the Vicar. 

'Not in the usual sense/ said the Vicar, stiffly - 
'but highly improper for the reading of Christian peo- 
ple. One is by a Unitarian, and the other reproduces 
some of the worst speculations of an infidel German 
theology. I pointed out the nature of the books to Miss 
Mallory. She replied that they were both by authors 
whom her father liked. I regretted it. Then she fired 
up, refused to withdraw the names, and offered to re- 
sign. Miss Mallory's subscription to the Club is, how- 
ever, much larger than mine. 7 shall therefore resign 
- protesting, of course, against the reason which in- 
duces me to take this course/ 

'What's wrong with the books?' asked Hugh 
Roughsedge. 

The Vicar "drew himself up. 

'I have given my reasons/ 
[ 127 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Why, you see that kind of thing in every news- 
paper/ said Roughsedge, bluntly. 

'All the more reason why I should endeavour to 
keep my parish free from it/ was the Vicar's resolute 
reply. ' However, there is no more to be said. I wished 
Mrs. Roughsedge to understand what had happened 
that is all/ 

He paused, and offered a limp hand in good-bye. 

'Let me speak to Miss Mallory/ said Mrs. Rough- 
sedge, soothingly. 

The Vicar shook his head. 

'She is a young lady of strong will.' 

And with a hasty nod of farewell to the Captain, 
whose hostility he divined, he walked away. 

'And what about obstinate and pig-headed parsons ! ' 
said Roughsedge hotly, addressing his remark, however, 
safely to the Vicar's back, and to his mother. 'Who 
makes him a judge of what we shall read ! I shall make 
it a point of asking for both the books!' 

'Oh, my dear Hugh!' cried his mother, in rather 
troubled protest. Then she happily reflected that if he 
asked for them, he was not in the least likely to read 
them. ' I hope Miss Mallory is not really an unbeliever.' 

' Mother ! Of course, what that poker in a wideawake 
did was to say something uncivil about her father, and 
she was n't going to stand that. Quite right, too.' 

'She did come to church on Christmas Day/ said 
Mrs. Roughsedge, reflecting. ' But, then, a great many 
people do that who don't believe anything. Any- 
way, she has always been quite charming to your 
father and me. And I think, besides, the Vicar might 
have been satisfied with your father's opinion he 
[ 128 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

made no complaint about the books. Oh, now the Miss 
Bertrams are going to stop us ! They'll of course know 
all about it !' 

If Captain Roughsedge growled ugly words into his 
moustache, his mother was able to pretend not to hear 
them, in the gentle excitement of shaking hands with 
the Miss Bertrams. These middle-aged ladies, the 
daughters of a deceased doctor from the neighbouring 
county town of Dunscombe, were, if possible, more 
plainly dressed than usual, and their manners more 
forbidding. 

'You will have heard of this disagreeable incident 
which has occurred/ said Miss Maria to Mrs. Rough- 
sedge, with a pinched mouth. 'My sister and I shall, 
of course, remove our names from the club/ 

' I say don't your subscribers order the books 
they like?' asked Roughsedge, half -wroth and half- 
laughing, surveying the lady with his hand on his 
side. 

'There is a very clear understanding among us/ said 
Miss Maria, sharply, 'as to the character of the books 
to be ordered. No member of the club has yet trans- 
gressed it.' 

'There must be give and take, must n't there?' said 
Miss Elizabeth, in a deprecatory voice. She was the 
more amiable and the weaker of the two sisters. ' We 
should never order books that would be offensive to 
Miss Mallory.' 

' But if you have n't read the books?' 

'The Vicar's word is quite enough/ said Miss Maria, 
with her most determined air. 

They all moved on together, Captain Roughsedge 
[ 129 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

smoothing or tugging at his moustache with a restless 
hand. 

But Miss Bertram, presently, dropping a little be- 
hind, drew Mrs. Roughsedge with her. 

'There are all sorts of changes at the house/ she said 
confidentially. 'The laundry maids are allowed to go 
out every evening, if they like and Miss Mallory 
makes no attempt to influence the servants to come to 
church. The Vicar says the seats for the Beechcote 
servants have never been so empty/ 

'Dear, dear!' murmured Mrs. Roughsedge. 

'And money is improperly given away. Several 
people whom the Vicar thinks most unfit objects of 
charity have been assisted. And in a conversation with 
him last week Miss Mallory expressed herself in a very 
sad way about foreign missions. Her father's idea, 
again, no doubt but it is all very distressing. The 
Vicar doubts' Miss Maria spoke warily, bringing her 
face very close to the grey curls 'whether she has 
ever been confirmed.' 

This final stroke, however, fell flat. Mrs. Rough- 
sedge showed no emotion. 

'Most of my aunts,' she said, stoutly, 'were never 
confirmed, and they were good Christians and com- 
municants all their lives.' 

Miss Maria's expression showed that this reference 
to a preceding barbaric age of the Church had no re- 
levance to the existing order of things. 

'Of course,' she added, hastily, 'I do not wish to 

make myself troublesome or conspicuous in any way. 

I merely mention these things as explaining why the 

Vicar felt bound to make a stand. The Church feeling 

[ 130 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

in this parish has been so strong it would, indeed, be 
a pity if anything occurred to weaken it.' 

Mrs. Roughsedge gave a doubtful assent. As to the 
Church feeling, she was not so clear as Miss Bertram. 
One of her chief friends was a secularist cobbler who 
lived under the very shadow of the church. The Miss 
Bertrams shuddered at his conversation. Mrs. Rough- 
sedge found him racy company, and he presented to her 
aspects of village life and opinion with which the Miss 
Bertrams were not at all acquainted. 

As the mother and son approached the old house in 
the sunset light, its aspect of mellow and intimate con- 
gruity with the woods and fields about it had never 
been more winning. The red, grey, and orange of its 
old brickwork played into the brown and purples of 
its engirdling trees, into the lilacs and golds and crim- 
sons of the western sky behind it, into the cool and quiet 
tones of the meadows from which it rose. A spirit of 
beauty had been at work fusing man's perishable and 
passing work with Nature's eternal masterpiece ; so that 
the old house had in it something immortal, and the 
light which played upon it something gently personal, 
relative, and fleeting. Winter was still dominant; a 
northeast wind blew. But on the grass under the 
spreading oaks which sheltered the eastern front a few 
snowdrops were out. And Diana was gathering them. 

She came towards her visitors with alacrity. ' Oh ! 
what a long time since you have been to see me!' 

Mrs. Roughsedge explained that she had been enter- 
taining some relations, and Hugh had been in London. 
She hoped that Miss Mallory had enjoyed her stay at 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Tallyn. It certainly seemed to both mother and son 
that the ingenuous young face coloured a little as its 
owner replied 'Thank you it was very amusing' 
and then added, with a little hesitation ' Mr. 
Marsham has been kindly advising me since, about the 
gardens and the Vavasours. They were to keep up 
the gardens, you know and now they practically 
leave it to me which is n't fair/ 

Mrs. Roughsedge secretly wondered whether this 
statement was meant to account for the frequent 
presence of Oliver Marsham at Beechcote. She had 
herself met him in the lane riding away from Beechcote 
no less than three times during the past fortnight. 

' Please come in to tea ! ' said Diana ; ' I am just ex- 
pecting my cousin Miss Merton. Mrs. Colwood and 
I are so excited ! we have never had a visitor here 
before. I came out to try and find some snowdrops 
for her room. There is really nothing in the green- 
houses and I can't make the house look nice.' 

Certainly as they entered and passed through the 
panelled hall to the drawing-room Hugh Roughsedge 
saw no need for apology. Amid the warm dimness of 
the house he was aware of a few starry flowers, a few 
gleaming and beautiful stuffs, the white and black 
of an engraving, or the blurred golds and reds of 
an old Italian picture, humble school-work perhaps, 
collected at small cost by Diana's father, yet still 
breathing the magic of the Enchanted Land. The 
house was refined, pleading, eager like its mistress. 
It made no display but it admitted no vulgarity. 
'These things are not here for mere decoration's sake,' 
it seemed to say. 'Dear kind hands have touched 
[ 132 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

them; dear silent voices have spoken of them; Love 
them a little, you also ! and be at home/ 

Not that Hugh Roughsedge made any such con- 
scious analysis of his impressions. Yet the house ap- 
pealed to him strangely. He thought Miss Mallory's 
taste marvellous ; and it is one of the superiorities in 
women to which men submit most readily. 

The drawing-room had especially a festive air. Mrs. 
Colwood was keeping tea-cakes hot, and building up 
a blazing fire with logs of beechwood. When she 
had seated her guests, Diana put the snowdrops she 
had gathered into an empty vase, and looked round 
her happily, as though now she had put the last 
touch to all her preparations. She talked readily of 
her cousin's coming to Mrs. Roughsedge; and she 
inquired minutely of Hugh when the next meet was 
to be, that she might take her guest to see it. 

'Fanny will be just as new to it all as I!' she said. 
'That's so nice, isn't it?' Then she offered Mrs. 
Roughsedge cake, and looked at her askance with a 
hanging head. ' Have you heard about the Vicar?' 

Mrs. Roughsedge admitted it. 

'I did lose my temper,' said Diana, repentantly. 
' But really ! papa used to tell me it was a sign of 
weakness to say violent things you could n't prove. 
Was n't it Lord Shaftesbury that said some book he 
did n't like was 'vomited out of the jaws of Hell'? 
Well, the Vicar said things very like that. He did 
indeed!' 

'Oh no, my dear, no!' cried Mrs. Roughsedge, dis- 
turbed by the quotation, even, of such a remark. 

Hugh Roughsedge grinned. 
[ 133 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana, however, insisted. 

' Of course, I would have given them up. Only I just 
happened to say that papa always read everything he 
could by those two men and then' - - she flushed - 
'Well, I don't exactly remember what Mr. Lavery said. 
But I know that when he'd said it I would n't have 
given up either of those books for the world !' 

'I hope, Miss Mallory, you won't think of giving 
them up/ said Hugh, with vigour. ' It will be an excel- 
lent thing for Lavery/ 

Mrs. Roughsedge, as the habitual peacemaker of the 
village, said hastily that Doctor Roughsedge should 
talk to the Vicar. Of course, he must not be allowed 
to do anything so foolish as to withdraw from the 
Club, or the Miss Bertrams either. 

'Oh! my goodness/ cried Diana, hiding her face 
and then raising it, crimson. ' The Miss Bertrams, too ! 
Why, it's only six weeks since I first came to this place, 
and now I'm setting it by the ears!' 

Her aspect of mingled mirth and dismay had in it 
something so childish and disarming that Mrs. Rough- 
sedge could only wish the Vicar had been there to see. 
His heretical parishioner fell into meditation. 

'What can I do? If I could only be sure that he 
would never say things like that to me again ' 

'But he will!' said Captain Roughsedge. 'Don't 
give in, Miss Mallory/ 

'Ah!' said Mrs. Roughsedge, as the door opened, 
'shall we ask Mr. Marsham?' 

Diana turned with a startled movement. It was 
evident that Marsham was not expected. But Mrs. 
Roughsedge also inferred from a shrewd observation of 
[ 134 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her hostess that he was not unwelcome. He had, in 
fact, looked in on his way home from hunting to give 
a message from his mother ; that, at least, was the pre- 
text. Hugh Roughsedge, reading him with a hostile 
eye, said to himself that if it had n't been Lady Lucy it 
would have been something else. As it happened, he 
was quite as well aware as his mother that Marsham 's 
visits to Beechcote of late had been far more frequent 
than mere neighbourliness required. 

Marsham was in hunting-dress, and made his usual 
handsome and energetic impression. Diana treated 
him with great self-possession, asking after Mr. Ferrier, 
who had just returned to Tallyn for the last fortnight 
before the opening of Parliament, and betraying to the 
Roughsedges that she was already on intimate terms 
with Lady Lucy, who was lending her patterns for her 
embroidery, driving over once or twice a week, and 
advising her about various household affairs. Mrs. 
Roughsedge, who had been Diana's first protector, 
saw herself supplanted not without a little natural 
chagrin. 

The controversy of the moment was submitted to 
Marsham, who decided hotly against the Vicar, and 
implored Diana to stand firm. But somehow his inter- 
vention only hastened the compunction that had al- 
ready begun to work in her. 

She followed the Roughsedges to the door when 
they departed. 

'What must I do?' she said, sheepishly, to Mrs. 
Roughsedge. ' Write to him ? ' 

'The Vicar? Oh, dear Miss Mallory, the Doctor will 
settle it. You would change the books?' 
[ 135 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Mother!' cried Hugh Roughsedge, indignantly, 
'we're all bullied you know we are and now you 
want Miss Mallory bullied too/ 

'"Who would be free, themselves must strike the 
blow/" laughed Marsham, in the background, as he 
stood toying with his tea beside Mrs. Colwood. 

Diana shook her head. 

'I can't be friends with him/ she said, naively, 'for 
a long long time. But I '11 rewrite my list. And must 
I go and call on the Miss Bertrams to-morrow?' 

Her mock and smiling submission, as she stood, 
slender and lovely, amid the shadows of the hall, 
seemed to Hugh Roughsedge, as he looked back upon 
her, the prettiest piece of acting. Then she turned, and 
he knew that she was going back to Marsham. At the 
same moment he saw Mrs. Col wood's little figure dis- 
appearing up the main stairway. Frowning and silent, 
he followed his mother out of the house. 

Diana looked round rather wistfully for Mrs. Col- 
wood as she re-entered the room; but that lady had 
many letters to write. 

Marsham noticed Mrs. Col wood's retreat with a thrill 
of pleasure. Yet even now he had no immediate declar- 
ation in his mind. The course that he had marked out 
for himself had been exactly followed. There had been 
no 'hurrying it/ Only in these weeks before Parlia- 
ment, while matters of great moment to his own polit- 
ical future were going forward, and his participation in 
them was not a whit less cool and keen than it had 
always been, he had still found abundant time for the 
wooing of Diana. He had assumed a kind of guardian's 
attitude in the matter of her relations to the Vavasours 
[ 136 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

who in business affairs had proved both greedy and 
muddle-headed ; he had flattered her woman's vanity 
by the insight he had freely allowed her into the pos- 
sibilities and the difficulties of his own Parliamentary 
position, and of his relations to Ferrier; and he had 
kept alive a kind of perpetual interest and flutter in 
her mind concerning him, by the challenge he was per- 
petually offering to the opinions and ideas in which she 
had been brought up while yet combining it with 
a respect towards her father's memory, so courteous, 
and in truth, sincere, that she was alternately roused 
and subdued. 

On this February evening, it seemed to his exultant 
sense, as Diana sat chatting to him beside the fire, that 
his power with her had substantially advanced, that by 
a hundred subtle signs quite involuntary on her 
part she let him understand that his personality 
was pressing upon hers, penetrating her will, trans- 
forming her gay and fearless composure. 

For instance, he had been lending her books repre- 
senting his own political and social opinions. To her 
they were anathema. Her father's soul in her regarded 
them as forces of the pit, rising in ugly clamour to drag 
down England from her ancient place. But to hate 
and shudder at them from afar had been compara- 
tively easy. To battle with them at close quarters, 
as presented by this able and courteous antagonist, 
who passed so easily and without presumption from 
the opponent into the teacher, was a more teasing 
matter. 

She had many small successes and side-victories, but 
they soon ceased to satisfy her, in presence of the 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

knowledge and ability of a man who had been ten 
years in Parliament, and had made for himself she 
began to understand a considerable position there. 
She was hotly loyal to her own faiths ; but she was con- 
scious of what often seemed to her a dangerous and 
demoralising interest in his ! A demoralising pleasure, 
too, in listening in sometimes laying aside the 
watchful, hostile air, in showing herself sweet, yielding, 
receptive. 

These melting moods, indeed, were rare. But no one 
watching the two on this February evening could have 
failed to see in Diana signs of happiness, of a joyous 
and growing dependence, of something that refused to 
know itself, that masqueraded now as this feeling, now 
as that, yet was all the time stealing upon the sources 
of life, bewitching blood and brain. Marsham la- 
mented that in ten days he and his mother must be in 
town for the Parliamentary season. Diana clearly en- 
deavoured to show nothing more than a polite regret. 
But in the half -laughing, half -forlorn requests she made 
to him for advice in certain practical matters which 
must be decided in his absence she betrayed herself ; 
and Marsham found it amazingly sweet that she should 
do so. He said eagerly that he and Lady Lucy must 
certainly come down to Tallyn every alternate Sunday, 
so that the various small matters he had made Diana 
entrust to him the finding of a new gardener ; ne- 
gotiations with the Vavasours, connected with the 
cutting of certain' trees or the repairs of a ruinous 
gable of the house should still be carried forward 
with all possible care and speed. Whereupon Diana 
inquired how such things could possibly engage the 
[ 138 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

time and thought of a politician in the full stream of 
Parliament. 

'They will be much more interesting to me/ said 
Marsham, in a low steady voice, * than anything I shall 
be doing in Parliament/ 

Diana rose, in sudden vague terror as though 
with the roar in her ears of rapids ahead murmured 
some stammering thanks, walked across the room, 
lowered a lamp which was flaming, and recovered all 
her smiling self-possession. But she talked no more 
of her own affairs. She asked him, instead, for news of 
Miss Vincent. 

Marsham answered, with difficulty. If there had 
been sudden alarm in her, there had been a sudden 
tumult of the blood in him. He had almost lost his 
hold upon himself; the great words had been almost 
spoken. 

But when the conversation had been once more 
guided into normal channels, he felt that he had es- 
caped a risk. No, no, not yet ! One false step one 
check and he might still find himself groping in the 
dark. Better let himself be missed a little ! than 
move too soon. As to Roughsedge he had kept his 
eyes open. There was nothing there. 

So he gave what news of Marion Vincent he had to 
give. She was still in Bethnal Green working at her 
inquiry, often very ill, but quite indomitable. As soon 
as Parliament began she had promised to do some 
secretarial work for Marsham on two or three mornings 
a week. 

'I saw her last week/ said Marsham. 'She always 
asks after you/ 

[ 139 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I am so glad! I fell in love with her. Surely' 
Diana hesitated 'surely some day she will 
marry Mr. Frobisher?' 

Marsham shook his head. 

'I think she feels herself too frail.' 

Diana remembered that little scene of intimacy of 
tenderness and Marsham 's words stirred about her, 
as it were, winds of sadness and renunciation. She 
shivered under them a little, feeling, almost guiltily, 
the glow of her own life, the passion of her own hopes. 

Marsham watched her as she sat on the other side of 
the fire, her beautiful head a little bent and pensive, the 
firelight playing on the oval of her cheek. How glad he 
was that he had not spoken ! that the barrier be- 
tween them still held. A man may find heaven or hell 
on the other side of it. But merely to have crossed it 
makes life the poorer. One more of the great, the 
irrevocable moments spent and done yielded to de- 
vouring time. He hugged the thought that it was still 
before him. The very timidity and anxiety he felt were 
delightful to him ; he had never felt them before. And 
once more involuntarily, disagreeably he thought 
of Alicia Drake, and of the passages between them in 
the preceding summer. 

Alicia was still at Tallyn, and her presence was, in 
truth, a constant embarrassment to him. Lady Lucy, 
on the contrary, had a strong sense of family duty 
towards her young cousin, and liked to have her for 
long visits at Tallin or in London. Marsham believed 
his mother knew nothing of the old flirtation between 
them. Alicia, indeed, rarely showed any special interest 
in him now. He admitted her general discretion. Yet 
[ 140 ] 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

occasionally she would put in a claim, a light word, now 
mocking, now caressing, which betrayed the old inti- 
macy, and Marsham would wince under it. It was like 
a creeping touch in the dark. He had known what it 
was to feel both compunction and a kind of fear with 
regard to Alicia. But, normally, he told himself that 
both feelings were ridiculous. He had done nothing to 
compromise either himself or her. He had certainly 
flirted with Alicia ; but he could not honestly feel that 
the chief part in the matter had been his. 

These thoughts passed in a flash. The clock struck, 
and regretfully he got up to take his leave. 

Diana rose, too, with a kindling face. 

'My cousin will be here directly !' she said, joyously. 

'Shall I find her installed when I come next time?' 

' I mean to keep her as long as long as ever I 
can!' 

Marsham held her hand close and warm a moment, 
felt her look waver a second beneath his, and then, 
with a quick and resolute step, he went his way. 

He was just putting on his coat in the outer hall 
when there was a sound of approaching wheels. A 
carriage stopped at the door, to which the butler hur- 
ried. As he opened it Marsham saw in the light of the 
porch -lamp the face of a girl peering out of the carriage 
window. It was a little awkward. His own horse was 
held by a groom on the other side of the carriage. 
There was nothing to do but to wait till the young lady 
had passed. He drew to one side. 

Miss Merton descended. There was just time for 
Marsham to notice an extravagant hat, smothered in 
ostrich feathers, a large-featured, rather handsome 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

face, framed in a tangled mass of black hair, a pair of 
sharp eyes that seemed to take in hungrily all they 
saw the old hall, the butler, and himself, as he 
stood in the shadow. He heard the new guest speak to 
the butler about her luggage. Then the door of the 
inner hall opened, and he caught Diana's hurrying 
feet, and her cry 

' Fanny I' 

He passed the lady and escaped. As he rode away 
into the darkness of the lanes he was conscious of an 
impression which had for the moment checked the 
'happy flutter of blood and pulse. Was that the long- 
expected cousin? Poor Diana! A common-looking, 
vulgar young woman with a most unpleasant voice 
and accent. An unpleasant manner, too, to the serv- 
ants half -arrogant, half -familiar. What a hat ! 
and what a fringe ! worthy of some young 'lidy ' in 
the Old Kent Road ! The thought of Diana sitting at 
table with such a person on equal terms pricked him 
with annoyance ; for he had all his mother's fastidious- 
ness, though it showed itself in different forms. He 
blamed Mrs. Colwood Diana ought to have been 
more cautiously guided. The thought of all the tender 
preparation made for the girl was both amusing and 
repellent. 

Miss Merton, he understood, was Diana's cousin on 
the mother's side the daughter of her mother's 
sister. A swarm of questions suddenly arose in his 
mind questions not hitherto entertained. Had there 
been, in fact, a mesalliance some disagreeable story 
which accounted, perhaps, for the self-banishment 
of Mr. Mallory? the seclusion in which Diana had 
[ 142 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

been brought up? The idea was most unwelcome, but 
the sight of Fanny Merton had inevitably provoked it. 
And it led on to a good many other ideas and specula- 
tions of a mingled sort connected, now with Diana, 
now with recollections, pleasant and unpleasant, of the 
eight or ten years which had preceded his first sight of 
her. 

For Oliver Marsham was now thirty-six, and he had 
not reached that age without at least one serious 
attempt quite apart from any passages with Alicia 
Drake to provide himself with a wife. Some two 
years before this date he had proposed to a pretty girl 
of great family and no money, with whom he supposed 
himself ardently in love. She, after some hesitation, 
had refused him, and Marsham had had some reason to 
believe that in spite of his mother's great fortune and 
his own expectations, his provenance had not been 
regarded as sufficiently aristocratic by the girl's fond 
parents. Perhaps had he and not Lady Lucy 
been the owner of Tallyn and its 18,000 a year, 
things might have been different. As it was, Marsham 
had felt the affront, as a strong and self-confident man 
was likely to feel it; and it was perhaps in reaction 
from it that he had allowed himself those passages 
with Alicia Drake which had, at least, soothed his self- 
love. 

In this affair Marsham had acted on one of the con- 
victions with which he had entered public life that 
there is no greater help to a politician than a distin- 
guished, clever, and, if possible, beautiful wife. Dis- 
tinction, Radical though he was, had once seemed to 
him a matter of family and 'connexion.' But after 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the failure of his first attempt, ' family/ in the ordinary 
sense, had ceased to attract him. Personal breeding, 
intelligence, and charm these, after all, are what the 
politician who is already provided with money, wants 
to secure in his wife ; without, of course, any obvious 
disqualification in the way of family history. Diana, 
as he had first met her among the woods at Portofino, 
side by side with her dignified and gentlemanly father, 
had made upon him precisely that impression of per- 
sonal distinction of which he was in search upon his 
mother also. 

The appearance and the accent, however, of the 
cousin had struck him with surprise ; nor was it till he 
was nearingTallyn that he succeeded in shaking off the 
impression. Absurd ! Everybody has some relations 
that require to be masked like the stables, or the 
back door in a skilful arrangement of life. Diana, 
his beautiful, unapproachable Diana, would soon, no 
doubt, be relieved of this young lady, with whom she 
could have no possible interests in common. And, per- 
haps, on one of his week-end visits to Tallynand Beech- 
cote, he might get a few minutes* conversation with 
Mrs. Colwood which would throw some light on the 
new guest. 

Diana meanwhile, assisted by Mrs. Colwood, was 
hovering about her cousin. She and Miss Merton had 
kissed each other in the hall, and then Diana, seized 
with a sudden shyness, led her guest into the drawing- 
room and stood there speechless, a little; holding her 
by both hands and gazing at her; mastered by feeling 
and excitement. 

[ 144 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Well, you have got a queer old place!' said Fanny 
Merton, withdrawing herself. 

She turned and looked about her, at the room, the 
flowers, the wide hearth, with its blazing logs, at Mrs. 
Colwood, and finally at Diana. 

'We are so fond of it already! 7 said Diana. 'Come 
and get warm/ She settled her guest in a chair by the 
fire, and took a stool beside her. ' Did you like Devon- 
shire?' 

The girl made a little face. 

'It was awfully quiet. Oh, my friends, of course, 
made a lot of fuss over me and that kind of thing. 
But I would n't live there, not if you paid me.' 

'We're very quiet here,' said Diana, timidly. 

She was examining the face beside her, with its 
bright crude colour, its bold eyes, and sulky mouth, 
slightly under-hung. 

'Oh, well, you've got some good families about, I 
guess. I saw one or two awfully smart carriages wait- 
ing at the station.' 

'There are a good many nice people/ murmured 
Diana. 'But there is not much going on.' 

'I expect you could invite a good many here if you 
wanted,' said the girl, once more looking round her. 
'Whatever made you take this place?' 

'I like old things so much,' laughed Diana. 'Don't 
you?' 

' Well, I don' t know. I think there 's more style about 
a new house. You can have electric light and all that 
sort of thing.' 

Diana admitted it, and changed the subject. 

'Had the journey been cold?' 
I 145 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Freezing, said Miss Merton. But a young man had 
lent her his fur coat to put over her knees, which had 
improved matters. She laughed rather consciously. 

' He lives near here. I told him I was sure you'd ask 
him to something, if he called/ 

'Who was he?* 

With much rattling of the bangles on her wrists, 
Fanny produced a card from her hand-bag. Diana 
looked at it in dismay. It was the card of a young 
solicitor whom she had once met at a local tea-party, 
and decided to avoid thenceforward. 

She said nothing, however, and plunged into in- 
quiries as to her aunt and cousins. 

' Oh ! they're all right. Mother's worried out of her 
life about money; but, then, we've always been that 
poor you could n't skin a cent off us, so that's nothing 
new.' 

Diana murmured sympathy. She knew vaguely that 
her father had done a good deal to subsidise these rela- 
tions. She could only suppose that in his ignorance he 
had not done enough. 

Meanwhile Fanny Merton had fixed her eyes upon 
Diana with a curious hostile look, almost a stare, which 
had entered them as she spoke of the family poverty, 
and persisted as they travelled from Diana's face and 
figure to the pretty and spacious room beyond. She 
examined everything, in a swift keen scrutiny, and 
then, as the pouncing glance came back to her cousin, 
the girl suddenly exclaimed : 

'Goodness! but you are like Aunt Sparling!' 

Diana flushed crimson. She drew back and said, 
hurriedly, to Mrs. Colwood : 

[ 146 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Muriel, would you see if they have taken the lug- 
gage upstairs?' 

Mrs. Colwood went at once. 

Fanny Merton had herself changed colour, and looked 
a little embarrassed. She did not repeat her remark, 
but began to take her furs off, to smooth her hair de- 
liberately, and settle her bracelets. 

Diana came nearer to her as soon as they were alone. 

'Do you really think I am like mamma?' she said, 
tremulously, all her eyes fixed upon her cousin. 

'Well, of course I never saw her !' said Miss Merton, 
looking down at the fire. 'How could I? But mother 
has a picture of her, and you're as like as two peas.' 

'I never saw any picture of mamma,' said Diana; 
' I don't know at all what she was like.' 

'Ah, well - -' said Miss Merton, still looking down. 
Then she stopped, and said no more. She took out her 
handkerchief, and began to rub a spot of mud off her 
dress. It seemed to Diana that her manner was a little 
strange, and rather rude. But she had made up her 
mind there would be peculiarities in Fanny, and she 
did not mean to be repelled by them. 

'Shall I take you to your room?' she said. 'You 
must be tired, and we shall be dining directly.' 

Miss Merton allowed herself to be led upstairs, look- 
ing curiously round her at every step. 

' I say, you must be well off !' she burst out, as they 
came to the head of the stairs, ' or you'd never be able 
to run a place like this ! ' 

'Papa left me all his money,' said Diana, colouring 
again. 'I hope he would n't have thought it extra- 
vagant.' 

[ 147 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She passed on in front of her guest, holding a candle. 
Fanny Merton followed. At Diana's statement as to 
her father's money the girl's face had suddenly re- 
sumed its sly hostility. And as Diana walked before 
her, Miss Merton again examined the house, the furn- 
iture, the pictures; but this time, and unknown to 
Diana, with the air of one half -jealous and half -con- 
temptuous of all she saw. 



PART II 



1 The soberest saints are more stiff-necked 
Than the hottest-headed of the wcked.' 



CHAPTER VII 

I SHALL soon be back/ said Diana ' very soon. I '11 
just take this book to Doctor Roughsedge. You don't 
mind?' 

The question was addressed in a deprecatory 
tone to Mrs. Colwood, who stood beside her at the 
Beechcote front door. 

Muriel Colwood smiled, and drew the furs closer 
round the girl's slim throat. 

' I shall mind very much if you don't stay out a full 
hour and get a good walk/ 

Diana ran off, followed by her dog. There was some- 
thing in the manner of both the dog and its mistress 
that seemed to show impetuous escape and relief. 

'She looks tired out!' said the little companion to 
herself as she turned to enter the hall. ' How on earth 
is she going to get through six weeks of it? or six 
months ! ' 

The house as she walked back through it made upon 
her the odd impression of having suddenly lost some of 
its charm. The peculiar sentiment as of a warmly 
human, yet delicately ordered life, which it had 
breathed out so freely only twenty-four hours before, 
seemed to her quick feeling to have been somehow ob- 
scured or dissipated. All its defects, old or new the 
patches in the panelling, the darkness of the passages 
stood out. 

And 'all along of Eliza!' All because of Miss Fanny 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Merton ! Mrs. Colwood recalled the morning Miss 
Merton's late arrival at the breakfast-table, and the 
discovery from her talk that she was accustomed to 
breakfast in bed, waited upon by her younger sisters ; 
her conversation at breakfast, partly about the prices 
of clothes and eatables, partly in boasting reminis- 
cence of her winnings at cards, or in sweepstakes on 
the 'run/ on board the steamer. Diana had then de- 
voted herself to the display of the house, and her maid 
had helped Miss Merton to unpack. The process had 
been diversified by raids made by Miss Fanny on 
Diana's own wardrobe, which she had inspected from 
end to end, to an accompaniment of critical remark. 
According to her, there was very little that was really 
'shick' in it, and Diana should change her dressmaker. 
The number of her own dresses was large ; and as to 
their colours and make, Mrs. Colwood, who had helped 
to put away some of them, could only suppose that 
tropical surroundings made tropical tastes. At the 
same time the contrast between Miss Fanny's ward- 
robe, and what she herself reported, in every tone of 
grievance and disgust, of the family poverty, was 
surprising, though no doubt a great deal of the finery 
had been as cheaply bought as possible. 

By luncheon-time Diana had shown some symptoms 
of fatigue, perhaps Mrs. Colwood hoped ! of re- 
volt. She had been already sharply questioned as to 
the number of servants she kept and the wages they 
received, as to the people in the neighbourhood who 
gave parties, and the ages and incomes of such young 
or unmarried men as might be met with at these par- 
ties. Miss Merton had boasted already of two love- 
[ 152 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

affairs one the unsuccessful engagement in Bar- 
badoes, the other 'a near thing' which had en- 
livened the voyage to England ; and she had extracted 
a promise from Diana to ask the young solicitor she had 
met with in the train Mr. Fred Birch to lunch, 
without delay. Meanwhile she had not of her own 
initiative said one word of those educational ob- 
jects, in pursuit of which she was supposed to have 
come to England. Diana had proposed to her the 
names of certain teachers both of music and languages 
names which she had obtained with much trouble. 
Miss Fanny had replied, rather carelessly, that she 
would think about it. 

It was at this that the eager sweetness of Diana's 
manner to her cousin had shown its first cooling. And 
Mrs. Colwood had curiously observed that at the first 
sign of shrinking on her part, Miss Fanny's demeanour 
had instantly changed. It had become sugared and 
flattering to a degree. Everything in the house was 
'sweet' ; the old silver used at table, with the Mallory 
crest, was praised extravagantly ; the cooking no less. 
Yet still Diana's tired silence had grown; and the 
watching eyes of this amazing young woman had been 
in Mrs. Colwood's belief, now insolently and now 
anxiously, aware of it. 

Insolence ! that really, if one came to think of it, 
had been the note of Miss Merton's whole behaviour 
from the beginning an ill-concealed, hardly re- 
strained insolence, towards the girl, two years older 
than herself, who had received her with such tender 
effusion, and was, moreover, in a position to help her 
SQ materially. What could it what did it mean? 
[ 153 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Mrs. Col wood stood at the foot of the stairs a mo- 
ment, lost in a trance of wonderment. Her heart was 
really sore for Diana's disappointment, for the look in 
her face, as she left the house. How on earth could the 
visit be shortened and the young lady removed? 

The striking of three o'clock reminded Muriel Col- 
wood that she was to take the newcomer out for an 
hour. They had taken coffee in the morning-room up- 
stairs, Diana's own sitting-room, where she wrote her 
letters and followed out the lines of reading her father 
had laid down for her. Mrs. Colwood returned thither ; 
found Miss Merton, as it seemed to her, in the act 
of examining the letters in Diana's blotting-book ; 
and hastily proposed to her to take a turn in the 
garden. 

Fanny Merton hesitated, looked at Mrs. Colwood a 
moment dubiously, and finally walked up to her. 

'Oh, I don't care about going out, it's so cold and 
nasty. And, besides, I I want to talk to you.' 

'Miss Mallory thought you might like to see the old 
gardens,' said Mrs. Colwood. ' But if you would rather 
not venture out, I 'm afraid I must go and write some 
letters.' 

' Why, you were writing letters all the morning ! My 
fingers would drop off if I was to go on at it like that. 
Do you like being a companion? I should think it was 
rather beastly if you ask me. At home they did talk 
about it for me. But I said: "No, thank you! My 
own mistress, if you please!" ' 

The speaker sat down by the fire, raised her skirt of 
purple cloth, and stretched a pair of shapely feet to the 
warmth. Her look was good-humoured and lazy. 
[ 154 ] 



The Hall, Stocks 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I am very happy here/ said Mrs. Col wood, quietly. 
'Miss Mallory is so charming and so kind/ 

Miss Fanny cleared her throat, poked the fire with 
the tip of her shoe, fidgeted with her dress, and finally 
said abruptly : 

' I say have all the people about here called ? ' 

The tone was so low and furtive that Mrs. Colwood, 
who had been putting away some embroidery silks 
which had been left on the table by Diana, turned in 
some astonishment. She found the girl's eyes fixed 
upon her eager and hungry. 

'Miss Mallory has had a great many visitors' she 
tried to pitch her words in the lightest possible tone 
' I am afraid it will take her a long time to return all 
her calls/ 

'Well, I'm glad it's all right about that! any- 
way. As mamma said, you never know. People are so 
queer about these things, aren't they? As if it was 
Diana's fault!' 

Through all her wrath, Muriel Colwood was con- 
scious of a sudden pang of alarm which was, in 
truth, the reawakening of something already vaguely 
felt or surmised. She looked rather sternly at her com- 
panion. 

' I really don't know what you mean, Miss Merton. 
And I never discuss Miss Mallory's affairs. Perhaps 
you will kindly allow me to go to my letters/ 

She was moving away when the girl beside her 
laughed again rather angrily and Mrs. Colwood 
paused touched again by instinctive fear. 

'Oh, of course if I 'm not to say a word about it 
I'm not that's all! Well, now, look here Diana 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

need n't suppose that I Ve come all this way just for 
fun. I had to say that about lessons, and that kind of 
thing I did n't want to set her against me but 
I've . . . Well ! why should I be ashamed, I should 
like to know?' she broke out, shrilly, sitting erect, 
her face flushing deeply, her eyes on fire. ' If some one 
owes you something why should n't you come and 
get it? Diana owes my mother money! a lot of 
money! and we can't afford to lose it. Mother's 
awfully sweet about Diana she said, "Oh no, it's 
unkind" but I say it's unkind to us, not to speak, 
when we all want money so bad and there are the 
boys to bring up and ' 

'Miss Merton I'm very sorry but really I can- 
not let you talk to me of Miss Mallory's private 
affairs. It would neither be right nor honourable. 
You must see that. She will be in by tea-time herself. 
Please!' 

Muriel's tone was gentle; but her attitude was re- 
solution itself. Fanny Merton stared at the frail slim 
creature in her deep widow's black ; her colour rose. 

'Oh, very well. Do as you like! I'm agreeable! 
Only I thought perhaps as you and Diana seem to 
be such tremendous friends you'd like to talk it 
over with me first. I don't know how much Diana 
knows; and I thought perhaps you'd give me a hint. 
Of course, she '11 know all there was in the papers. But 
my mother claims a deal more than the trust money 
jewels, and that kind of thing. And Uncle Mallory 
treated us shamefully about them shamefully! 
That 's why I'm come over. I made mother let me! 
Oh, she's so soft, is mother, she'd let anybody off. But 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

I said, "Diana's rich, and she ought to make it up to 
us! If nobody else '11 ask her, I will !" 

The girl had grown pale, but it was a pallor of de- 
termination and of passion. Mrs. Colwood had listened 
to the torrent of words, held against her will, first by 
astonishment, then by something else. If it should be 
her duty to listen? for the sake of this young life, 
which in these few weeks had so won upon her heart? 

She retraced a few steps. 

' Miss Merton, I do not understand what you have 
been saying. If you have any claim upon Miss Mai- 
lory, you know well that she is the soul of honour and 
generosity. Her one desire is to give everybody more 
than their due. She is too generous I often have to 
protect her. But, as I have said before, it is not for me 
to discuss any claim you may have upon her/ 

Fanny Merton was silent for a minute staring at 
her companion. Then she said, abruptly : 

'Does she ever talk to you about Aunt Sparling? 1 

1 Her mother?' 

The girl nodded. 

Mrs. Colwood hesitated then said, unwillingly : 
' No. She has mentioned her once or twice. One can 
see how she missed her as a child how she misses 
her still.' 

'Well, I don't know what call she has to miss her!' 
cried Fanny Merton, in a note of angry scorn. 'A pre- 
cious good thing she died when she did for every- 
body.' 

Mrs. Colwood felt her hands trembling. In the grow- 
ing darkness of the winter afternoon it seemed to her 
startled imagination as though this black-eyed, black- 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

browed girl, with her scowling, passionate face, were 
entering into possession of the house and of Diana - 
an evil and invading power. She tried to choose her 
words carefully. 

' Miss Mallory has never talked to me of her parents. 
And, if you will excuse me, Miss Merton if there is 
anything sad or tragic in their history, I would 
rather hear it from Miss Mallory than from you !' 

'Anything sad? anything sad? Well, upon my 
word !' 

The girl breathed fast. So, involuntarily, did Mrs. 
Col wood. 

'You don't mean to say' the speaker threw her 
body forward, and brought her face close to Mrs. Col- 
wood 'you are not going to tell me that you don't 
know about Diana's mother?' 

She laid her hand upon Muriel's dress. 

'Why should I know? Please, Miss Merton!' and 
with a resolute movement Mrs. Colwood tried to 
withdraw her dress. 

' Why, everybody knows ! everybody ! every- 
body ! Ask anybody in the world about Juliet Sparling 
- and you'll see. In the saloon, coming over, I heard 
people talk about her all one night they did n't 
know who / was and of course I did n't tell. And 
there was a book in the ship's library "Famous 
Trials" or some name of that sort with the whole 
thing in it. You don't know about Diana's 
mother?' 

The fierce, incredulous emphasis on the last word, 
for a moment, withered all reply on Mrs. Colwood's lips. 
She walked to the door mechanically, to see that it was 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

fast shut. Then she returned. She sat down beside 
Diana's guest, and it might have been seen that she 
had silenced fear and dismissed hesitation. 

'After all/ she said, with quiet command, 'I think 
I will ask you, Miss Merton, to explain what you mean/ 

The February afternoon darkened round the old 
house. There was a light powdering of snow on grass 
and trees. Yet still there were breathings and bird- 
notes in the air, and tones of colour in the distance, 
which obscurely prophesied the spring. Through the 
wood behind the house the snowdrops were rising, in 
a white invading host, over ground covered with the 
red-brown deposit of innumerable autumns. Above 
their glittering white, rose an undergrowth of laurels 
and box, through which again shot up the magnificent 
trunks grey and smooth and round of the great 
beeches, which held and peopled the country-side, 
heirs of its ancestral forest. Any one standing in the 
wood could see, through the leafless trees, the dusky 
blues and rich violets of the encircling hill hung 
there, like the tapestry of some vast hall ; or hear from 
time to time the loud wings of the wood-pigeons as 
they clattered through the topmost boughs. 

Diana was still in the village. She had been spending 
her hour of escape mostly with the Roughsedges. The 
old doctor among his books was now sufficiently at his 
ease with her to pet her, teach her, and, when neces- 
sary, laugh at her. And Mrs. Roughsedge, however she 
might feel herself eclipsed by Lady Lucy, was in truth, 
much more fit to minister to such ruffled feelings as 
Diana was now conscious of than that delicate and 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

dignified lady. Diana's disillusion about her cousin was 
so far no very lofty matter. It hurt ; but on her run to 
the village the natural common sense Mrs. Colwood 
had detected had wrestled stoutly with her wounded 
feelings. Better take it with a laugh ! To laugh, how- 
ever, one must be distracted; and Mrs. Roughsedge, 
bubbling over with gossip and good-humour, was dis- 
traction personified. Stern Justice, in the person of 
Lord M.'s gamekeeper, had that morning brought back 
Diana's two dogs in leash, a pair of abject and con- 
victed villains, from the delirium of a night's hunting. 
The son of Miss Bertram's coachman had only just 
missed an appointment under the District Council by 
one place on the list of candidates. A 'Red Van' 
bursting with Socialist literature had that morning 
taken up its place on the village green; and Diana's 
poor housemaid, in payment for a lifetime's neglect, 
must now lose every tooth in her head, according to the 
verdict of the local dentist, an excellent young man, 
in Mrs. Roughsedge's opinion, but ready to give you 
almost too much pulling out for your money. On all 
these topics she overflowed with much fun and un- 
failing good-humour. So that after half an hour spent 
with Mrs. Roughsedge and Hugh in the little drawing- 
room at the White Cottage, Diana's aspect was very 
different from what it had been when she arrived. 

Hugh, however, had noticed her pallor and depres- 
sion. He was obstinately certain that Oliver Marsham 
was not the man to make such a girl happy. Between 
the rich Radical member and the young officer poor, 
slow of speech and wits, and passionately devoted to 
the old-fashioned ideals and traditions in which he had 
[ 160 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

been brought up there was a natural antagonism. 
But Roughsedge's contempt for his brilliant and suc- 
cessful neighbour on the ground of selfish ambitions 
and unpatriotic trucklings was, in truth, much more 
active than anything Marsham had ever shown or 
felt towards himself. For in the young soldier there 
slept potentialities of feeling and of action, of which 
neither he nor others were as yet aware. 

Nevertheless, he faced the facts. He remembered 
the look with which Diana had returned to the Beech- 
cote drawing-room, where Marsham awaited her, the 
day before and told himself not to be a fool. 

Meanwhile he had found an opportunity in which to 
tell her, unheard by his parents, that he was practically 
certain of his Nigerian appointment, and must that 
night break it to his father and mother. And Diana 
had listened like a sister, all sympathy and kind looks, 
promising in the young man's ear, as he said good-bye 
at the garden gate, that she would come again next 
day to cheer his mother up. 

He stood looking after her as she walked away ; his 
hands in his pockets, a flush on his handsome face. 
How her coming had glorified and transformed the 
place ! No womanish nonsense, too, about this going of 
his ! though she knew well that it meant fighting. 
Only a kindling of the eyes a few questions as prac- 
tical as they were eager and then that fluttering of 
the soft breath which he had noticed as she bent over 
his mother. 

But she was not for him ! Thus it is that women 
the noblest and the dearest throw themselves away. 
She, with all the right and proper feelings of an Eng- 
[ 161 ]. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

lish-woman, to mate with this plausible Radical and 
Little Englander! Hugh kicked the stones of the 
gravel savagely to right and left as he walked back to 
the house in a black temper with his poverty and 
Diana's foolishness. 

But was she really in love? ' Why then so pale, fond 
lover?' He found a kind of angry comfort in the re- 
membrance of her drooping looks. They were no credit 
to Marsham, anyway. 

Meanwhile Diana walked home, lingering by the way 
in two or three cottages. She was shyly beginning to 
make friends with the people. An old road-mender 
kept her listening while he told her how a Tallyn 
keeper had peppered him in the eye, ten years before, 
as he was crossing Barrow Common at dusk. One eye 
had been taken out, and the other was almost useless; 
there he sat, blind, and cheerfully telling the tale 
'Muster Marsham Muster Henry Marsham had 
been verra kind ten shillin a week, and an odd job 
now and then. I do suffer terr'ble, Miss, at times 
but ther 's noa good in grumblin is there?' 

Next door, in a straggling line of cottages, she found 
a gentle, chattering widow whose husband had been 
drowned in the brew-house at Beechcote twenty years 
before, drowned in the big vat ! before any one had 
heard a cry or a sound. The widow was proud of so 
exceptional a tragedy ; eager to tell the tale. How had 
she lived since? Oh, a bit here and a bit there. And, 
of late, half a crown from the parish. 

Last of all, in a cottage midway between the village 
and Beechcote, she paused to see a jolly middle-aged 
woman, with a humorous eye and a stream of conver- 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

sation held prisoner by an incurable disease. She 
was absolutely alone in the world. Nobody knew what 
she had to live on. But she could always find a crust 
for some one more destitute than herself, and she 
ranked high among the wits of the village. To Diana 
she talked of her predecessors the Vavasours 
whose feudal presence seemed to be still brooding over 
the village. With little chuckles of laughter, she gave 
instance after instance of the tyranny with which they 
had lorded it over the country-side in early Victorian 
days: how the 'Madam Vavasour' of those days had 
pulled the feathers from the village-girls' hats, and 
turned a family who had offended her, with all their 
belongings, out into the village street. But when 
Diana rejoiced that such days were done, the old 
woman gave a tolerant: 'Noa noa! They were 
none so bad were t' Vavasours. Only they war no 
good at heirin.' 

'Airing?' said Diana, mystified. 

'Heirin,' repeated Betty Dyson, emphatically. 
'Theer was Old Squire James wi noabody to follow 
'im an Mr. Edward noa better and now thissun, 
wi nobbut lasses. Noa they war noa good at heirin 
moor's t' pity.' Then she looked slyly at her com- 
panion: 'An' yo, Miss? yo'll be gettin married one 
o' these days, I'll uphowd yer.' 

Diana coloured and laughed. 

'Aye,' said the old woman, laughing too, with the 
merriment of a girl. 'Sweethearts is noa good but 
you mun ha a sweetheart!' 

Diana fled, pursued by Betty's raillery, and then by 
the thought of this lonely, laughing woman, often tor- 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

mented by pain, standing on the brink of ugly death, 
and yet turning back to look with this merry indulgent 
eye upon the past; and on this dingy old world, in 
which she had played so ragged and limping a part. 
Yet clearly she would play it again if she could so 
sweet is mere life ! and so hard to silence in the breast. 

Diana walked quickly through the woods, the prey 
of one of those vague storms of feeling which test and 
stretch the soul of youth. 

To what horrors had she been listening? the suf- 
fering of the blinded road-mender the grotesque 
and hideous death of the young labourer in his full 
strength the griefs of a childless and penniless old 
woman? Yet life had somehow engulfed the horrors; 
and had spread its quiet waves above them, under 
a pale, late-born sunshine. The stoicism of the poor 
rebuked her, as she thought of the sharp impatience 
and disappointment in which she had parted from 
Mrs. Colwood. 

She seemed to hear her father's voice. ' No shirking, 
Diana! You asked her you formed absurd and 
exaggerated expectations. She is here ; and she is not 
responsible for your expectations. Make the best of 
her, and do your duty!' 

And eagerly the child's heart answered : 'Yes, yes, 
papa ! dear papa !' 

And there, sharp in colour and line, it rose on the 
breast of memory, the beloved face. It set pulses beat- 
ing in Diana which from her childhood onwards had 
been a life within her life, a pain answering to pain, 
the child's inevitable response to the father's misery, 
always discerned, never understood. 
[ 164 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

This abiding remembrance of a dumb unmitigable 
grief beside which she had grown up, of which she had 
never known the secret, was indeed one of the main 
factors in Diana's personality. Muriel Colwood had at 
once perceived it ; Marsham had been sometimes puz- 
zled by the signs of it. 

To-day because of Fanny and this toppling of her 
dreams the dark mood, to which Diana was always 
liable, had descended heavily upon her. She had no 
sooner rebuked it by the example of the poor, or the 
remembrance of her father's long patience than she 
was torn by questions, vehement, insistent, full of a 
new anguish. 

Why had her father been so unhappy? What was 
the meaning of that cloud under which she had grown 
up? 

She had repeated to Muriel Colwood the stock ex- 
planations she had been accustomed to give herself 
of the manner and circumstances of her bringing-up. 
To-day they seemed to her own mind, for the first time, 
utterly insufficient. In a sudden crash and confusion 
of feeling it was as though she were tearing open the 
heart of the past, passionately probing and search- 
ing. 

Certain looks and phrases of Fanny Merton were 
really working in her memory. They were so light - 
yet so ugly. They suggested something, but so vaguely 
that Diana could find no words for it : a note of dese- 
cration, of cheapening a breath of dishonour. It was 
as though a mourner, shut in for years with sacred 
memories, became suddenly aware that all the time, 
in a sordid world outside, these very memories had 
[ 165 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

been the sport of an unkind and insolent chatter that 
besmirched them. 

Her mother ! 

In the silence of the wood the girl's slender figure 
stiffened itself against an attacking thought. In her 
inmost mind she knew well that it was from her mo- 
ther and her mother's death that all the strange- 
ness of the past descended. But yet the death and 
grief she remembered had never presented themselves 
to her as they appear to other bereaved ones. Why 
had nobody ever spoken to her of her mother in her 
childhood and youth ? neither father, nor nurses, 
nor her old French governess? Why had she no pict- 
ure no relics no letters? In the box of ' Sparling 
Papers' there was nothing that related to Mrs. Spar- 
ling ; that she knew, for her father had abruptly told 
her so not long before his death. They were old family 
records which he could not bear to destroy the 
honourable records of an upright race, which some 
day, he thought, 'might be a pleasure to her.' 

Often during the last six months of his life, it seemed 
to her now, in this intensity of memory, that he had 
been on the point of breaking the silence of a lifetime. 
She recalled moments and looks of agonised effort and 
yearning. But he died of a growth in the throat ; and 
for weeks before the end speech was forbidden them, 
on account of the constant danger of hemorrhage. So 
that Diana had always felt herself starved of those last 
words and messages which make the treasure of be- 
reaved love. Often and often the cry of her loneliness 
to her dead father had been the bitter cry of Andro- 
mache to Hector : ' I had from thee, in dying, no mem- 
[ 166 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

orable word on which I might ever think in the year of 
mourning while I wept for thee/ 

Had there been a quarrel between her father and 
mother? or something worse? at which Diana's 
ignorance of life, imposed upon her by her up-bringing, 
could only glance in shuddering? She knew her mother 
had died at twenty-six ; and that in the two years be- 
fore her death Mr. Mallory had been much away, trav- 
elling and exploring in Asia Minor. The young wife 
must have been often alone. Diana, with a sudden 
catching of the breath, envisaged possibilities of which 
no rational being of full age who reads a newspaper can 
be unaware. 

Then, with an inward passion of denial, she shook 
the whole nightmare from her. Outrage ! treason ! 
to those helpless memories of which she was now the 
only guardian. In these easy, forgetting days, when 
the old passions and endurances look to us either 
affected or eccentric, such a life, such an exile as her 
father's, may seem strange even so she accused her- 
self to that father's child. But that is because we 
are mean souls beside those who begot us. We cannot 
feel as they ; and our constancy, compared to theirs, is 
fickleness. 

So, in spirit, she knelt again beside her dead, embrac- 
ing their cold feet and asking pardon. 

The tears clouded her eyes ; she wandered blindly on 
through the wood till she was conscious of sudden light 
and space. She had come to a clearing, where several 
huge beeches had been torn up by a storm some years 
before. Their place had been filled by a tangle of many 
saplings, and in their midst rose an elder-bush, already 
[ 167 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

showing leaf, amid the bare winterly wood. The last 
western light caught the twinkling leaf -buds, and made 
of the tree a Burning Bush, first herald of the spring. 

The sight of it unloosed some swell of passion in 
Diana; she found herself smiling amid her tears, and 
saying incoherent things that only the wood caught. 

To-day was the meeting of Parliament. She pict- 
ured the scene. Marsham was there, full of projects 
and ambitions. Innocently, exultantly, she reminded 
herself how much she knew of them. If he could not 
have her sympathy, he must have her antagonism. 
But no chilling exclusions and reserves ! Rather, a gen- 
erous confidence on his side; and a gradual, a childlike 
melting and kindling on hers. In politics she would 
never agree with him never ! she would fight him 
with all her breath and strength. But not with the 
methods of Mrs. Fotheringham. No! what have 
politics to do with with 

She dropped her face in her hands, laughing to her- 
self, the delicious tremors of first love running through 
her. Would she hear from him? She understood she 
was to be written to, though she had never asked it. 
But ought she to allow it? Was it convenable ? She 
knew that girls now did what they liked threw all 
the old rules overboard. But proudly she stood 
by the old rules; she would do nothing 'fast' or for- 
ward. Yet she was an orphan standing alone ; surely 
for her there might be more freedom than for others? 

She hurried home. With the rush of new happiness 

had come back the old pity, the old yearning. It 

was n't, was n't Fanny's fault ! She Diana had 

always understood that Mr. Merton was a vulgar, 

[ 168 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

grasping man of no breeding who had somehow en- 
trapped 'your Aunt Bertha who was very foolish 
and very young' into a most undesirable marriage. 
As for Mrs. Merton Aunt Bertha Fanny had 
with her many photographs, among them several of 
her mother. A weak, heavy face, rather pretty still. 
Diana had sought her own mother in it, with a pas- 
sionate yet shrinking curiosity, only to provoke a 
rather curt reply from Fanny, in answer to a question 
she had, with difficulty, brought herself to put : 

' Not a bit ! There was n't a scrap of likeness between 
mother and Aunt Sparling/ 

The evening passed off better than the morning had 
done. Eyes more acute in her own interests than 
Diana's might have perceived a change in Fanny Mer- 
ton, after her .long conversation with Mrs. Colwood. 
A certain excitement, a certain triumph, perhaps an 
occasional relenting and compunction : all these might 
have been observed or guessed. She made herself quite 
amiable : showed more photographs, talked still more 
frankly of her card-winnings on the steamer, and of 
the flirtation which had beguiled the voyage; bespoke 
the immediate services of Diana's maid for a dress that 
must be done up ; and expressed a desire for another 
and a bigger wardrobe in her room. Gradually a tone 
of possession, almost of command, crept in. Diana, 
astonished and amused, made no resistance. These, 
she supposed, were West-Indian manners. The Colon- 
ies are like healthy children that submit in their youth, 
and then grow up and order the household about. 
What matter! 

[ 169 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Meanwhile Mrs. Colwood looked a little pale, and 
confessed to a headache. Diana was pleased, however, 
to see that she and Fanny were getting on better than 
had seemed to be probable in the morning. Fanny 
wished nay, was resolved to be entertained and 
amused. Mrs. Colwood threw herself with new zest 
into the various plans Diana had made for her cousin. 
There was to be a luncheon-party, an afternoon tea, 
and so forth. Only Diana, pricked by a new mistrust, 
said nothing in public about an engagement she had 
to spend a Saturday-to-Monday with Lady Lucy at 
Tallyn three weeks later, though she and Muriel made 
anxious plans as to what could be done to amuse 
Fanny during the two days. 

Diana was alone in her room at night when Mrs. 
Colwood knocked. Would Diana give her some laven- 
der-water? her headache was still severe. Diana 
flew to minister to her ; but, once admitted, Muriel said 
no more of her headache. Rather she began to soothe 
and caress Diana. Was she in better spirits? Let 
her only entrust the entertaining of Fanny Merton to 
her friend and companion Mrs. Colwood would see 
to it. 

Diana laughed, and silenced her with a kiss. 

Presently they were sitting by the fire, Muriel Col- 
wood in a large armchair, a frail, fair creature, with 
her large, dark-circled eyes, and her thin hands and 
arms; Diana kneeling beside her. 

' I had no idea what a poison poverty could be ! ' said 
Muriel, abruptly, with her gaze on the fire. 

'My cousin?' Diana looked up startled. 'Was that 
what she was saying to you?' 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Muriel nodded assent. Her look so anxious 
and tender held, enveloped her companion. 

'Are they in debt?' said Diana, slowly. 

' Terribly. They seem to be going to break up their 
home/ 

'Did she tell you all about it?' 

Mrs. Colwood hesitated. 

'A great deal more than I wanted to know!' she 
said, at last, as though the words broke from her. 

Diana thought a little. 

'I wonder whether that was what she came 
home for?' 

Mrs. Colwood moved uneasily. 

' I suppose if you are in those straits you don't really 
think of anything else though you may wish to.' 

' Did she tell you how much they want?' said Diana, 
quickly. 

'She named a thousand pounds!' 

Muriel might have been describing her own em- 
barrassments, so scarlet had she become. 

'A thousand pounds!' cried Diana, in amazement. 
'But then why why does she have so many 
frocks and play cards for money and bet on 
races?' 

She threw her arms round Mrs. Colwood's knees 
impetuously. 

Muriel's small hand smoothed back the girl's hair, 
timidly yet eagerly. 

' I suppose that's the way they've been brought up.' 

'A thousand pounds! And does she expect me to 
provide it?' 

' I am afraid she hopes it.' 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' But I have n't got it !' cried Diana, sitting down on 
the floor. ' I ' ve spent more than I ought on this place ; 
I'm overdrawn; I ought to be economical for a long 
time. You know, Muriel, I'm not really rich/ 

Mrs. Colwood coloured deeper than ever. But ap- 
parently she could think of nothing to say. Her eyes 
were riveted on her companion. 

'No, I'm not rich/ resumed Diana, with a frown, 
drawing circles on the ground with her finger. 'Per- 
haps I ought n't to have taken this house. I dare say 
it was horrid of me. But I could n't have known 
could I? that Fanny would be coming and want a 
thousand pounds?' 

She looked up expecting sympathy perhaps a 
little indignation. 

Mrs. Colwood only said : 

' I suppose she would not have come over if things 
had not been very bad/ 

'Why didn't she give me some warning?' cried 
Diana 'instead of talking about French lessons! 
But am I bound do you think I'm bound? to 
give the Mertons a thousand pounds? I know papa got 
tired of giving them money. I wonder if it's right!' 

She frowned. Her voice was a little stern. Her eyes 
flashed. 

Mrs. Colwood again touched her hair with a hand 
that trembled. 

'They are your only relations, aren't they?' she 
said, pleadingly. 

'Yes/ said Diana, still with the same roused look. 

'Perhaps it would set them on their feet altogether/ 

The girl gave a puzzled laugh. 
[ 172 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Did she Muriel, did she ask you to tell me?' 

' I think she wanted me to break it to you/ said Mrs. 
Colwood, after a moment. 'And I thought it it 
might save you pain.' 

'Just like you!' Diana stooped to kiss her hand. 
'That's what your headache meant! Well, but now 
- ought I ought I to do it?' 

She clasped her hands round her knees and swayed 
backwards and forwards pondering with a rather 
sombre brow. Mrs. Col wood's expression was hidden 
in the darkness of the big chair. 

'Always supposing I can do it/ resumed Diana. 
' And I certainly could n't do it at once ; I have n't got 
it. I should have to sell something, or borrow from the 
bank. No, I must think I must think over it/ she 
added more resolutely, as though her way cleared. 

'Of course/ said Mrs. Colwood, faintly. Then she 
raised herself. ' Let me tell her so let me save you 
the conversation/ 

'You dear! but why should you?' said Diana, in 
amazement. 

'Let me/ 

'If you like! But I can't have Fanny making you 
look like this. Please, please go to bed/ 

An hour later Mrs. Colwood, in her room, was still 
up and dressed, hanging motionless, and deep in 
thought, over the dying fire. And before she went to 
sleep far in the small hours her pillow was wet 
with crying. 



CHAPTER VIII 

I THOUGHT I'd perhaps better let you know I'm 
- well, I 'm going to have a talk with Diana this morn- 
ing!' 

The voice was determined. Muriel Colwood 
startled and dismayed surveyed the speaker. She 
had been waylaid on the threshold of her room. The 
morning was halfway through. Visitors, including 
Mr. Fred Birch, were expected to lunch, and Miss 
Merton, who had been lately invisible, had already, 
she saw, changed her dress. At breakfast, it seemed 
to Mrs. Colwood, she had been barely presentable: 
untidy hair, a dress with various hooks missing, and 
ruffles much in need of washing. Muriel could only sup- 
pose that the carelessness of her attire was meant to 
mark the completeness of her conquest of Beechcote. 
But now her gown of scarlet velveteen, her arms bare 
to the elbow, her frizzled and curled hair, the powder 
which gave a bluish white to her complexion, the 
bangles and beads which adorned her, showed her 
armed to the last pin for the encounters of the lunch- 
eon-table. 

Mrs. Colwood, however, after a first dazzled look at 
what she wore, thought only of what she said. She 
hurriedly drew the girl into her own room, and shut 
the door. When, after some conversation, Fanny 
emerged, Mrs. Colwood was left in a state of agitation 
that was partly fear, partly helpless indignation. 
[ 174 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

During the fortnight since Miss Merton's arrival all the 
energies of the house had been devoted to her amuse- 
ment. A little whirlwind of dissipation had blown 
through the days. Two meets, a hockey-match, a con- 
cert at the neighbouring town, a dinner-party and 
various 'drums/ besides a luncheon-party and after- 
noon tea at Beechcote itself in honour of the guest - 
Mrs. Colwood thought the girl might have been con- 
tent ! But she had examined everything presented to 
her with a very critical eye, and all through it had been 
plain that she was impatient and dissatisfied ; for, in- 
evitably, her social success was not great. Diana, on 
the other hand, was still a new sensation, and some- 
thing of a queen wherever she went. Her welcoming 
eyes, her impetuous smile drew a natural homage ; and 
Fanny followed sulkily in her wake, accepted not 
without surprise as Miss Mallory's kinswoman, but 
distinguished by no special attentions. 

In any case, she would have rebelled against the 
situation. Her vanity was amazing, her temper violent. 
At home she had been treated as a beauty, and had 
ruled the family with a firm view to her own interests. 
What in Alicia Drake was disguised by a thousand 
subtleties of class and training was here seen in its 
crudest form. But there was more besides miser- 
ably plain now to this trembling spectator. The re- 
sentment of Diana's place in life, as of something 
robbed, not earned the scarcely concealed claim 
either to share it or attack it these things were no 
longer riddles to Muriel Colwood. Rather they were 
the storm-signs of a coming tempest, already darken- 
ing above an innocent head. 

[ 175 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

What could she do? The little lady gave her days 
and nights to the question, and saw no way out. Some- 
times she hoped that Diana's personality had made an 
impression on this sinister guest ; she traced a grudging 
consciousness in Fanny of her cousin's generosity and 
charm. But this perception only led to fresh despond- 
ency. Whenever Fanny softened, it showed itself in a 
claim to intimacy, as sudden and as violent as her ill- 
temper. She must be Diana's first and dearest be 
admitted to all Diana's secrets and friendships. Then 
on Diana's side, inevitable withdrawal, shrinking, self- 
defence and on Fanny's a hotter and more acrid 
jealousy. 

Meanwhile, as Mrs. Colwood knew, Diana had been 
engaged in correspondence with her solicitors, who had 
been giving her some prudent and rather stringent 
advice on the subject of income and expenditure. 
This morning, as Mrs. Colwood believed, a letter had 
arrived. 

Presently she stole out of her room to the head of the 
stairs. There she remained, pale and irresolute, for a 
little while, listening to the sounds in the house. But 
the striking of the hall clock, the sighing of a stormy 
wind round the house, and, occasionally, a sound of 
talking in the drawing-room, was all she heard. 

Diana had been busy in the hanging of some last 
pictures in the drawing-room photographs from 
Italian pictures and monuments. They had belonged 
to her father, and had been the dear companions of her 
childhood. Each, as she handled it, breathed its own 
memory ; of the little villa on the Portofino road, with 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

its green shutters, and rooms closed against the sun ; or 
of the two short visits to Lucca and Florence she had 
made with her father. 

Among the photographs was one of the Annuncia- 
tion by Donatello, which glorifies the southern wall 
of Santa Croce. Diana had just hung it in a panelled 
corner, where its silvery brilliance on dark wood made 
a point of pleasure for the eye. She lingered before it, 
wondering whether it would please him when he came. 
Unconsciously her life had slipped into this habit of re- 
ferring all its pains and pleasures to the unseen friend 
holding with him that constant dialogue of the 
heart without which love neither begins nor grows. 

Yet she no longer dreamt of discussing Fanny, and 
the perplexities Fanny had let loose on Beechcote, 
with the living Marsham. Money affairs must be kept 
to one's self ; and somehow Fanny's visit had become 
neither more nor less than a money affair. 

That morning Diana had received a letter from old 
Mr. Riley, the head of the firm of Riley & Bonner 
a letter which was almost a lecture. If the case were 
indeed urgent, said Mr. Riley, if the money must be 
found, she could, of course, borrow on her securities, 
and the firm would arrange it for her. But Mr. Riley, 
excusing himself as her father's old friend, wrote with 
his own hand to beg her to consider the matter further. 
Her expenses had lately been many, and some of her 
property might possibly decline in value during the 
next few years. A prudent management of her affairs 
was really essential. Could not the money be gradually 
saved out of income? 

Diana coloured uncomfortably as she thought of 
[ 177 ], ' 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the letter. What did the dear old man suppose she 
wanted the money for? It hurt her pride that she must 
appear in this spendthrift light to eyes so honest and 
scrupulous. 

But what could she do? Fanny poured out ugly 
reports of her mother's financial necessities to Muriel 
Col wood ; Mrs. Col wood repeated them to Diana. And 
the Mertons were Diana's only kinsfolk. The claim of 
blood pressed her hard. 

Meanwhile, with a shrinking distaste, she had' tried 
to avoid the personal discussion of the matter with 
Fanny. The task of curbing the girl's impatience, day 
after day, had fallen to Mrs. Col wood. 

Diana was still standing in a reverie before the An- 
nunciation when the drawing-room door opened. As 
she looked round her, she drew herself sharply to- 
gether with the movement of a sudden and instinctive 
antipathy. 

'That 's all right/ said Fanny Merton, surveying the 
room with satisfaction, and closing the door behind 
her. ' I thought I 'd find you alone/ 

Diana remained nervously standing before the pict- 
ure, awaiting her cousin, her eyes wider than usual, 
one hand at her throat. 

'Look here/ said Fanny, approaching her, 'I want 
to talk to you/ 

Diana braced herself. ' All right/ She threw a look at 
the clock. ' Just give me time to get tidy before lunch.' 

' Oh, there's an hour time enough !' 

Diana drew forward an armchair for Fanny, and 
settled herself into the corner of a sofa. Her dog 
jumped up beside her, and laid his nose on her lap. 
' [ 178 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Fanny held herself straight. Her colour under the 
powder had heightened a little. The two girls con- 
fronted each other, and, vaguely, perhaps, each felt 
the strangeness of the situation Fanny was twenty, 
Diana twenty-three. They were of an age when girls 
are generally under the guidance or authority of their 
elders ; comparatively little accustomed, in the normal 
family, to discuss affairs or take independent decisions. 
Yet here they met, alone and untrammelled ; as hostess 
and guest in the first place ; as kinswomen, yet com- 
parative strangers to each other, and conscious of a 
secret dislike, each for the other. On the one side, an 
exultant and partly cruel consciousness of power; on 
the other, feelings of repugnance and revolt, only held 
in check by the forces of a tender and scrupulous 
nature. 

Fanny cleared her throat. 

'Well, of course, Mrs. Colwood 's told me all you've 
been saying to her. And I don't say I 'm surprised/ 

Diana opened her large eyes. 

'Surprised at what?' 

' Surprised well ! surprised you did n't see your 
way all at once, and that kind of thing. I know I'd 
want to ask a lot of questions should n't I, just ! 
Why, that's what I expected. But, you see, my time 
in England's getting on. I've nothing to say to my 
people, and they bother my life out every mail.' 

'What did you really come to England for?' said 
Diana, in a low voice. Her attitude, curled up among 
the cushions of the sofa, gave her an almost childish 
air. Fanny, on the other hand, resplendent in her 
scarlet dress and high coiffure, might have been years 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

older than her cousin. And any stranger watching the 
face in which the hardness of an 'old campaigner' 
already strove with youth, would have thought her, 
and not Diana, the mistress of the house. 

At Diana's question, Fanny's eyes flickered a mo- 
ment. 

' Oh, well, I had lots of things in my mind. But it 
was the money that mattered most/ 

'I see,' murmured Diana. . 

Fanny fidgeted a little with one of the three bead 
necklaces which adorned her. Then she broke out : 

'Look here, Diana, you've never been poor in your 
life, so you don't know what it's like being awfully 
hard up. But ever since father died, mother's had a 
frightful lot of trouble all of us to keep, and the 
boys' schooling to pay, and next to nothing to do it on. 
Father left everything in a dreadful muddle. He never 
had a bit of sense - 

Diana made a sudden movement. Fanny looked at 
her astonished, expecting her to speak. Diana, how- 
ever, said nothing, and the girl resumed : 

'I mean, in business. He'd got everything into a 
shocking state, and instead of six hundred a year for 
us as we'd always been led on to expect well, 
there was n't three ! Then, you know, Uncle Mallory 
used to send us money. Well ' (she cleared her throat 
again and looked away from Diana), 'about a year 
before he died he and father fell out about something 
so that did n't come in any more. Then we thought 
perhaps he'd remember us in his will. And that was 
another disappointment. So, you see, really mother 
did n't know where to turn.' 
[ 180 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I suppose papa thought he had done all he could/ 
said Diana, in a voice which tried to keep quite steady. 
' He never denied any claim he felt just. I feel I must 
say that, because you seem to blame papa. But, of 
course, I am very sorry for Aunt Bertha/ 

At the words 'claim' and 'just' there was a quick 
change of expression in Fanny's eyes. She broke out 
angrily : 'Well, you really don't know about it, Diana, 
so it's no good talking. And I 'm not going to rake up 
old things ' 

'But if I don't know,' said Diana, interrupting, 
'had n't you better tell me? Why did papa and Uncle 
Merton disagree? And why did you think papa ought 
to have left you money? ' She bent forward insistently. 

There was a dignity perhaps also a touch of 
haughtiness in her bearing which exasperated the 
girl beside her. The haughtiness was that of one 
who protects the dead. But Fanny's mind was not 
one that perceived the finer shades. 

'Well, I'm not going to say!' said Fanny, with 
vehemence. ' But I can tell you, mother has a claim ! 
and Uncle Mallory ought to have left us something ! ' 

The instant the words were out she regretted them. 

Diana abandoned her childish attitude. She drew 
herself together, and sat upright on the edge of the 
sofa. The colour had come flooding back hotly into 
her cheeks, and the slightly frowning look produced 
by the effort to see the face before her distinctly gave 
a peculiar intensity to the eyes. 

'Fanny, please! you must tell me why!' 

The tone, resolute, yet appealing, put Fanny in an 
evident embarrassment. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Well, I can't/ she said, after a moment -- 'so it's 
no good asking me/ Then suddenly, she hesitated - 
'Or at least' 

'At least what? Please go on/ 

Fanny wriggled again, then said, with a burst : 

'Well, my mother was Aunt Sparling's younger 
sister you know that don't you ?' 

'Of course/ 

'And our grandfather died a year before Aunt Spar- 
ling. She was mother's trustee. Oh, the money's all 
right the trust money, I mean/ said the girl, hastily. 
' But it was a lot of other things that mother says 
grandpapa always meant to divide between her and 
Aunt Sparling and she never had them nor a 
farthing out of them ! ' 

'What other things? t don't understand/ 

'Jewels ! there ! jewels and a lot of plate. 
Mother says she had a right to half the things that be- 
longed to her mother. Grandpapa always told her she 
should have them. And there was n't a word about 
them in the will/ 

'/ have n't any diamonds/ said Diana, quietly, 'or 
any jewels at all, except a string of pearls papa gave 
me when I was nineteen, and two or three little things 
we bought in Florence/ 

Fanny Merton grew still redder ; she stared aggress- 
ively at her cousin : ' Well that was because - 
Aunt Sparling sold all the things!' 

Diana started and recoiled. 

'You mean/ she said her breath fluttering - 
' that mamma sold things she had no right to and 
never gave Aunt Bertha the money!' 
[ 182 ] 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The restrained passion of her look had an odd effect 
upon her companion. Fanny first wavered under it, 
then laughed a laugh that was partly perplexity, 
partly something else, indecipherable. 

' Well, as I was n't born then, I don't know. You 
need n't be cross with me, Diana ; I did n't mean to say 
any harm of anybody. But mother says ' she laid 
an obstinate stress on each word 'that she remem- 
bers quite well grandpapa meant her to have : a 
diamond necklace; a rivifre' (she began to check the 
items off on her fingers) 'there were two, and of 
course Aunt Sparling had the best ; two bracelets, one 
with turquoises and one with pearls; a diamond 
brooch ; an opal pendant ; a little watch set with dia- 
monds grandma used to wear ; and then a lot of plate ! 
Mother wrote me out a list I've got it here/ 

She opened a beaded bag on her wrist, took out half 
a sheet of paper, and handed it to Diana. 

Diana looked at it in silence. Even her lips were 
white, and her fingers shook. 

'Did you ever send this to papa?' she asked, after 
a minute. 

Fanny fidgeted again. 

'Yes.' 

'And what did he say? Have you got his letter?' 

'No; I have n't got his letter.' 

' Did he admit that that mamma had done this?' 

Fanny hesitated ; but her intelligence, which was of 
a simple kind, did not suggest to her an ingenious line 
of reply. 

' Well, I dare say he did n't. But that does n't make 
any difference.' 

[ 183 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Was that what he and Uncle Merton quarrelled 
about?' 

Fanny hesitated again: then broke out: 

' Father only did what he ought he asked for 
what was owed mother! 7 

'And papa wouldn't give it!' cried Diana, in a 
strange note of scorn; 'papa, who never could rest if 
he owed a farthing to anybody who always over- 
paid everybody whom everybody 

She rose suddenly with a bitten lip. Her eyes blazed 
and her cheeks. She walked to the window and 
stood looking out, in a whirlwind of feeling and mem- 
ory, hiding her face as best she could from the girl who 
sat watching her with an expression half -sulky, half- 
insolent. Diana was thinking of moments recalling 
forgotten fragments of dialogue in the past, which 
showed her father's opinion of his Barbadoes brother- 
in-law: 'A grasping, ill-bred fellow' 'neither grati- 
tude, nor delicacy' 'has been the evil genius of his 
wife, and will be the ruin of his children.' She did not 
believe a word of Fanny's story not a word of it ! 

She turned impetuously. Then, as her eyes met 
Fanny's, a shock ran through her the same sudden, 
inexplicable fear which had seized on Mrs. Colwood, 
only more sickening, more paralysing. And it was a 
fear which ran back to and linked itself with the hour 
of heart-searching in the wood. What was Fanny 
thinking of? what was in her mind? on her lips? 
Impulses she could not have defined, terrors to which 
she could give no name, crept over Diana's will and 
disabled it. She trembled from head to foot and 
gave way. 

[ 184 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She walked up to her cousin. 

'Fanny, is there any letter anything of grand- 
papa's or of my mother's that you could show 
me?' 

'No! It was a promise, I tell you there was no 
writing. But my mother could swear to it.' 

The girl faced her cousin without flinching. Diana 
sat down again, white and tremulous, the moment of 
energy, of resistance, gone. In a wavering voice she 
began to explain that she had, in fact, been inquiring 
into her affairs, that the money was not actually at her 
disposal, that to provide it would require an arrange- 
ment with her bankers, and the depositing of some 
securities ; but that, before long, it should be avail- 
able. 

Fanny drew a long breath. She had not expected 
the surrender. Her eyes sparkled, and she began to 
stammer thanks. 

'Don't!' said Diana, putting out a hand. 'If I owe 
it you and I take it on your word the money 
shall be paid that's all. Only only I wish you 
had not written to me like that ; and I ask that that 
you will never, please, speak to me about it again ! ' 

She had risen, and was standing, very tall and 
rigid, her hands pressing against each other. 

Fanny's face clouded. 

' Very well/ she said, as she rose from her seat ; ' I'm 
sure I don't want to talk about it. I did n't like the 
job a bit nor did mother. But if you are poor 
and somebody owes you something you can't help 
trying to get it that's all !' 

Diana said nothing. She went to the writing-table 
[ 185 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and began to arrange some letters. Fanny looked at 
her. 

' I say, Diana ! perhaps you won't want me to 
stay here after You seem to have taken against me/ 

Diana turned. 

'No/ she said, faintly. Then, with a little sob: 'I 
thought of nothing but your coming/ 

Fanny flushed. 

'Well, of course you've been very kind to me and 
all that sort of thing. I was n't saying you had n't 
been. Except Well, no, there's one thing I do 
think you've been rather nasty about 1 / 

The girl threw back her head defiantly. 

Diana's pale face questioned her. 

'I was talking to your maid yesterday/ said Fanny, 
slowly, 'and she says you're going to stay at some 
smart place next week, and you've been getting a new 
dress for it. And you ' ve never said a word to me about 
it let alone ask me to go with you!' 

Diana looked at her amazed. 

'You mean I'm going to Tallyn!' 

'That's it,' said Fanny, reproachfully. 'And you 
know I don't get a lot of fun at home and I might 
as well be seeing people and going about with you 
though I do have to play second fiddle. You're 
rich, of course everybody's nice to you ' 

She paused. Diana, struck dumb, could find, for the 
moment, nothing to say. The red flamed in Fanny's 
cheeks, and she turned away with a flounce. 

'Oh, well, you'd better say it at once you're 
ashamed of me! I have n't had your blessed advant- 
ages! Do you think I don't know that!' 
[ 186 ] 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

In the girl's heightened voice and frowning brow 
there was a touch of fury, of goaded pride, that touched 
Diana with a sudden remorse. She ran towards her 
cousin appealing : 

'I'm very sorry, Fanny. I I don't like to leave 
you but they are my great friends and Lady 
Lucy, though she's very kind, is very old-fashioned. 
One could n't take the smallest liberty with her. I 
don't think I could ask to take you when they are 
quite by themselveg and the house is only half- 
mounted. But Mrs. Colwood and I had been thinking 
of several things that might amuse you and I shall 
only be two nights away.' 

' I don't want any amusing thanks ! ' said Fanny, 
walking to the door. 

She closed it behind her. Diana clasped her hands 
overhead in a gesture of amazement. 

'To quarrel with me about that after the other 
thing!' 

No ! not Tallyn ! not Tallyn ! anywhere, any- 
thing, but that ! 

Was she proud? snobbish? Her eyes filled with 
tears, but her will hardened. What was to be gained? 
Fanny would not like them, nor they her. 

The luncheon-party had been arranged for Mr. Birch, 
Fanny's train acquaintance. Diana had asked the 
Roughsedges, explaining the matter, with a half -depre- 
cating, half -humorous face, to the comfortable ear of 
Mrs. Roughsedge. Explanation was necessary, for this 
particular young man was only welcome in those houses 
of the neighbourhood which were not socially dainty. 
[ 187 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Mrs. Rbughsedge understood at once laughed heart- 
ilyaccepted with equal heartiness and then, 
taking Diana's hand, she said, with a shining of her 
grey eye : 

' My dear, if you want Henry and me to stand on our 
heads we will attempt it with pleasure. You are an 
angel! and angels are not to be worried by solicit- 
ors/ 

The first part of which remark referred to a cer- 
tain morning after Hugh's announcement of his ap- 
pointment to the Nigerian expedition, when Diana had 
shown the old people a sweet and daughter-like sym- 
pathy, which had entirely won whatever portion of 
their hearts remained still to be captured. 

Hugh, meanwhile, was not yet gone, though he was 
within a fortnight of departure. He was coming to 
luncheon, with his parents, in order to support Diana. 
The family had seen Miss Merton some two or three 
times, and were all strongly of opinion that Diana 
very much wanted supporting. 'Why should one be 
civil to one's cousins? 7 Doctor Roughsedge inquired 
of his wife. ' If they are nice, let them stand on their 
own merits. If not, they are disagreeable people who 
know a deal too much about you. Miss Diana should 
have consulted me!' 

The Roughsedges arrived early, and found Diana 
alone in the drawing-room. Again Captain Rough- 
sedge thought her pale, and was even sure that she had 
lost flesh. This time it was hardly possible to put these 
symptoms down to Marsham's account. He chafed 
under the thought that he should be no longer there 
in case a league, offensive and defensive, had in the end 
[ 188 ] 



Mrs. Ward's Study, Stocks 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to be made with Mrs. Colwood for the handling of cous- 
ins. It was quite clear that Miss Fanny was a vulgar 
little minx, and that Beechcote would have no peace 
till it was rid of her. Meanwhile, the indefinable 
change which had come over his mother's face, during 
the preceding week, had escaped even the quick eyes 
of an affectionate son. Alas ! for mothers when 
Lalage appears ! 

Mr. Birch arrived to the minute, and when he was 
engaged in affable conversation with Diana, Fanny, 
last of the party the door being ceremoniously 
thrown open by the butler entered, with an air. 
Mr. Birch sprang effusively to his feet, and there was 
a noisy greeting between him and his travelling com- 
panion. The young man was slim, and effeminately 
good-looking. His frock-coat and grey trousers were 
new and immaculate; his small feet were encased in 
shining patent-leather boots, and his blue eyes gave 
the impression of having been carefully matched with 
his tie. He was evidently delighted to find himself at 
Beechcote, and it might have been divined that there 
was a spice of malice in his pleasure. The Vavasours 
had always snubbed him ; Miss Mallory herself had not 
been over-polite to him on one or two occasions. But 
her cousin was a 'stunner/ and, secure in Fanny's 
exuberant favour, he made himself quite at home. 
Placed on Diana's left at table, he gave her much 
voluble information about her neighbours, mostly ill- 
natured ; he spoke familiarly of 'that clever chap Mar- 
sham,' as of a politician who owed his election for the 
division entirely to the good offices of Mr. Fred Birch's 
firm, and described Lady Lucy as 'an old dear/ 
[ 189 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

though very 'frowsty' in her ideas. He was strongly 
of opinion that Marsham should find an heiress as soon 
as possible, for there was no saying how 'long the old 
lady would see him out of his money/ and everybody 
knew that at present 'she kept him beastly short/ 
'As for me/ the speaker wound up, with an engaging 
and pensive naivete, ' I 've talked to him till I 'm tired/ 

At last he was headed away from Tallyn and its own- 
ers, only to fall into a rapturous debate with Fanny 
over a racing bet which seemed to have been offered 
and taken on the journey which first made them ac- 
quainted . Fanny had lost, but the young man gallantly 
excused her. 

' No no, could n't think of it ! Not till next time. 
Then my word ! I '11 come down upon you 
won't I? Teach you to know your way about eh?' 

Loud laughter from Fanny, who professed to know 
her way about already. They exchanged 'tips' 
until at last Mr. Birch, lost in admiration of his com- 
panion, pronounced her a 'ripper' he had never yet 
met a lady so well up 'why, you know as much as 
a man!' 

Doctor Roughsedge meanwhile observed the type. 
The father, an old-fashioned, steady-going solicitor, 
had sent the son to expensive schools, and allowed him 
two years at Oxford, until the College had politely 
requested the youth's withdrawal. The business was 
long established, and had been sound. This young man 
had now been a partner in it for two years, and the 
same period had seen the rise to eminence of another 
and hitherto obscure firm in the county town. Mr. 
Fred Birch spoke contemptuously of the rival firm as 
[ 190 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'smugs' ; but the district was beginning to entrust its 
wills and mortgages to the 'smugs' with a sad and 
increasing alacrity. 

There were, indeed, some secret discomforts in the 
young man's soul ; and while he sported with Fanny 
he did not forget business. The tenant of Beechcote 
was, ipso facto, of some social importance, and Diana 
was reported to be rich ; the Roughsedges also, though 
negligible financially, were not without influence in 
high places; and the Doctor was governor of an im- 
portant grammar-school recently revived and reorgan- 
ised, wherewith the Birches would have been glad to 
be officially connected. He therefore made himself 
agreeable. 

' You read, sir, a great deal ? ' he said to the Doctor, 
with a professional change of voice. 

The Doctor, who, like most great men, was a trifle 
greedy, was silently enjoying a dish of oysters deli- 
cately rolled in bacon. He looked up at his questioner. 

'A great deal, Mr. Birch.' 

' Everything, in fact ? ' 

' Everything except, of course, what is indispens- 
able.' 

Mr. Birch looked puzzled. 

' I heard of you from the Duchess, Doctor. She says 
you are one of the most learned men in England.' 

'The Duchess?' 

The Doctor screwed up his eyes and looked round 
the table. 

Mr. Birch, with complacency, named the wife of a 
neighbouring potentate who owned half the county. 

'Don't know her,' said the Doctor 'don't know 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her ; and excuse the barbarity don't wish to 
know her/ 

'Oh, but so charming!' cried Mr. Birch 'and so 
kind!' 

The Doctor shook his head, and declared that great 
ladies were not to his taste. ' Poodles, sir, poodles ! " fed 
on cream and muffins ! " - there is no trusting them.' 

' Poodles ! ' said Fanny, in astonishment. ' Why are 
duchesses like poodles?' 

The Doctor bowed to her. 

' I give it up, Miss Merton. Ask Sydney Smith/ 

Fanny was mystified, and the sulky look appeared. 

'Well, I know I should like to be a duchess. Why 
should n't one want to be a duchess?' 

'Why not indeed?' said the Doctor, helping himself 
to another oyster. 'That's why they exist.' 

' I suppose you 're teasing, ' said Fanny, rather crossly. 

'I am quite incapable of it,' protested the Doctor. 
'Shall we not all agree that duchesses exist for the 
envy and jealousy of mankind?' 

'Womankind?' put in Diana. 

The Doctor smiled at her, and finished his oyster. 
Brave child! Had that odious young woman been 
behaving in character that morning? He would like 
to have the dealing with her ! As for Diana, her face 
reminded him of Cowper's rose 'just washed by a 
shower ' - delicately fresh yet eloquent of some 
past storm. Good Heavens ! Where was that fellow 
Marsham? Philandering with politics,, when there was 
this flower for the gathering ! 

Luncheon was halfway through when a rattling 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

sound of horses' hoofs outside drew the attention of 
the table. 

'Somebody else coming to lunch/ said Mr. Birch. 
' Sorry for 'em, Miss Mallory. We have n't left 'em 
much. You've done us so uncommon well.' 

Diana herself looked in some alarm round the table. 

'Plenty, my dear lady, plenty !' said the Doctor, on 
her other hand. 'Cold beef, and bread and cheese 
- what does any mortal want more? Don't disturb 
yourself.' 

Diana wondered who the visitors might be. The 
butler entered. 

'Sir James Chide, ma'am, and Miss Drake. They 
have ridden over from Overton Park, and did n't think 
it was so far. They told me to say they did n't wish to 
disturb you at luncheon, and might they have a cup 
of coffee?' 

Diana excused herself, and hurried out. Mr. Birch 
explained at length to Mrs. Colwood and Fanny that 
Overton Park belonged to the Judge, Sir William 
Felton; that Sir James Chide was often there; and no 
doubt Miss Drake had been invited for the ball of the 
night before ; awfully smart affair ! the coming-out 
ball of the youngest daughter. 

'Who is Miss Drake?' asked Fanny, thinking envi- 
ously of the ball, to which she had not been invited. 

Mr. Birch turned to her with confidential jocosity. 

' Lady Lucy Marsham's cousin ; and it is generally 
supposed that she might by now have been something 
else but for - 

He nodded toward the chair at the head of the table 
which Diana had left vacant. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Whatever do you mean?' said Fanny. 

The Marshams to her were, so far, mere shadows. 
They represented rich people on the horizon whom 
Diana selfishly wished to keep to herself. 

'I'm telling tales, I declare I am!' said Mr. Birch. 
'Haven't you seen Mr. Oliver Marsham yet, Miss 
Merton?' 

'No. I don't know anything about him/ 

'Ah!' said Mr. Birch, smiling, and peeling an apple 
with deliberation. 

Fanny flushed. 

'Is there anything up between him and Diana?' 
she said in his ear. 

Mr. Birch smiled again. 

'I saw old Mr. Vavasour the other day clients 
of ours, you understand. A close-fisted old boy, Miss 
Merton. They imagined they'd get a good deal out 
of your cousin. But not a bit of it. Oliver Marsham 
does all her business for her. The Vavasours don't 
like it, I can tell you/ 

' I have n't seen either him or Lady Lucy is that 
her name? since I came.' 

' Let me see. You came about a fortnight ago 
just when Parliament reassembled. Mr. Marsham is 
our Member. He and Lady Lucy went up to town the 
day before Parliament met.' 

'And what about Miss Drake?' 

'Ah! poor Miss Drake!' Mr. Birch raised a hu- 
morous eyebrow. 'Those little things will happen, 
won't they? It was just at Christmas, I understand, 
that your cousin paid her first visit to Tallyn. A man 
who was shooting there told me all about it.' 
[ 194 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'And Miss Drake was there too?' 

Mr. Birch nodded. 

'And Diana cut her out?' said Fanny, bending 
towards him eagerly. 

Mr: Birch smiled again. Voices were heard in the 
hall, but before the new guests entered, the young man 
put up a finger to his lips : 

' Don't you quote me, please, Miss Merton. But, I 
can tell you, your cousin's very high up in the running 
just now. And Oliver Marsham will have twenty thou- 
sand a year some day if he has a penny. Miss Mallory 
has n't told you anything has n't she? Ha ha ! 
Still waters, you know still waters ! ' 

A few minutes later Sir James Chide was seated 
between Diana and Fanny Merton, Mr. Birch having 
obligingly vacated his seat and passed to the other side 
of the table, where his attempts at conversation were 
coldly received by Miss Drake. That young lady daz- 
zled the eyes of Fanny, who sat opposite to her. The 
closely fitting habit and black riding-hat gave to her 
fine figure and silky wealth of hair the maximum of 
effect. Fanny perfectly understood that only money 
and fashion could attain to Miss Drake's costly sim- 
plicity. She envied her from the bottom of her heart ; 
she would have given worlds to see the dress in which 
she had figured at the ball. Miss Drake, no doubt, 
went to two or three balls a week, and could spend 
anything she liked upon her clothes. 

Yet Diana had cut her out Diana was to carry off 
the prize! Twenty thousand a year! Fanny's mind 
was in a ferment the mind of a raw and envious pro- 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

vincial, trained to small ambitions and hungry desires. 
Half an hour before, she had been writing a letter 
home, in a whirl of delight and self-glorification. The 
money Diana had promised would set the whole family 
on its legs, and Fanny had stipulated that after the 
debts were paid she was to have a clear, cool hundred 
for her own pocket, and no nonsense about it. It was 
she who had done it all, and if it had n't been for her, 
they might all have gone to the workhouse. But 
now her success was to her as dross. The thought of 
Diana's future wealth and glory produced in her a 
feeling which was an acute physical distress. So Diana 
was to be married ! and to the great parti of the 
neighbourhood ! Fanny already saw her in the bridal 
white, surrounded by glittering bridesmaids; and a 
churchful of titled people, bowing before her as she 
passed in state, like poppies under a breeze. 

And Diana had never said a word to her about it 
to her own cousin ! Nasty, close, mean ways ! Fanny 
was not good enough for Tallyn oh no ! She was 
asked to Beechcote when there was nothing going on 
or next to nothing and one might yawn one's 
self to sleep with dulness from morning till night. But 
as soon as she was safely packed off, then there would 
be fine times, no doubt; the engagement would be 
announced ; the presents would begin to come in ; the 
bridesmaids would be chosen. But she would get no- 
thing out of it not she ; she would not be asked to be 
bridesmaid. She was not genteel enough for Diana. 

Diana Diana ! the daughter 

Fanny's whole nature gathered itself as though for 
a spring upon some prey, at once tempting and exas- 
[ 196 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

perating. In one short fortnight the inbred and fated 
antagonism between the two natures had developed 
itself on Fanny's side to the point of hatred. In 
the depths of her being she knew that Diana had 
yearned to love her, and had not been able. That fail- 
ure was not her crime, but Diana's. 

Fanny looked haughtily round the table. How 
many of them knew what she knew? Suddenly a name 
recurred to her ! the name announced by the butler 
and repeated by Mr. Birch. At the moment she had 
been thinking of other things ; it had roused no sleeping 
associations. But now the obscure under-self sent it 
echoing through the brain. Fanny caught her breath. 
The sudden excitement made her head swim. She 
turned and looked at the white-haired, elderly man 
sitting between her and Diana. 

Sir James Chide ! 

Memories of the common gossip in her home, of the 
talk of the people on the steamer, of pages in that vol- 
ume of ' Famous Trials ' she had studied on the voyage 
with such a close and unsavoury curiosity, danced 
through the girl's consciousness. Well, he knew! No 
good pretending there. And he came to see Diana 
and still Diana knew nothing! Mrs. Colwood must 
simply be telling lies silly lies ! Fanny glanced at 
her with contempt. 

Yet so bewildered was she that when Sir James 
addressed her, she stared at him in what seemed a fit 
of shyness. And when she began to talk it was at 
random, for her mind was in a tumult. But Sir James 
soon divined her. Vulgarity, conceit, ill-breeding 
the great lawyer detected them in five minutes' con- 
[ 197 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

versation. Nor were they unexpected ; for he was well 
acquainted with Miss Fanny's origins. Yet the percep- 
tion of them made the situation still more painfully 
interesting to him, and no less mysterious than before. 
For he saw no substantial change in it ; and he was, in 
truth, no less perplexed than Fanny. If certain things 
had happened in consequence of Miss Merton's advent, 
neither he nor any other guest would be sitting at 
Diana Mallory's table that day ; of that he was morally 
certain. Therefore, they had not happened. 

He returned with a redoubled tenderness of feeling 
to his conversation with Diana. He had come to Over- 
ton for the Sunday, at great professional inconvenience, 
for nothing in the world but that he must pay this 
visit to Beechcote ; and he had approached the house 
with dread dread lest he should find a face stricken 
with the truth. That dread was momentarily lifted, 
for in those beautiful dark eyes of Diana innocence and 
ignorance were still written ; but none the less he trem- 
bled for her ; he saw her as he had seen her at Tallyn, 
a creature doomed and consecrate to pain. Why, in 
the name of justice and pity, had her father done this 
thing? So it is that a man's love, for lack of a little 
simple courage and common sense, turns to cruelty. 

Poor, poor child ! At first sight he, like the Rough- 
sedges, had thought her pale and depressed. Then he 
had given his message. 'Marsham has arrived !- 
turned up at Overton a couple of hours ago and told 
us to say he would follow us here after luncheon. He 
wired to Lady Felton this morning to ask if she would 
take him in for the Sunday. Some big political meeting 
he had for to-night is off. Lady Lucy stays in town 
[ 198 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and Tallyn is shut up. But Lady Felton was, of course, 
delighted to get him. He arrived about noon. Civility 
to his hostess kept him to luncheon then he pursues 
us!' 

Since then ! no lack of sparkle in the eyes or colour 
in the cheek! Yet even so, to Sir James's keen sense, 
there was an increase, a sharpening, in Diana's person- 
ality, of the wistful, appealing note, which had been 
always touching, always perceptible, even through 
the radiant days of her Tallyn visit. 

Ah, well ! like Doctor Roughsedge, only with a far 
deeper urgency, he, too, for want of any better plan, 
invoked the coming lover. In God's name, let Mar- 
sham take the thing into his own hands ! stand on 
his own feet ! dissipate a nightmare which ought 
never to have arisen and gather the girl to his 
heart. 

Meanwhile Fanny's attention and the surging 
anger of her thoughts were more and more directed 
upon the girl with the fair hair opposite. A natural 
bond of sympathy seemed somehow to have arisen 
between her and this Miss Drake Diana's victim. 
Alicia Drake, looking up, was astonished, time after 
time, to find herself stared at by the common-looking 
young woman across the table, who was, she under- 
stood, Miss Mallory's cousin. What dress, and what 
manners ! One did not often meet that kind of person 
in society. She wished Oliver joy of his future rela- 
tions. 

In the old panelled drawing-room the coffee was cir- 
[ 199 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

culating. Sir James was making friends with Mrs. Col- 
wood, whose gentle looks and widow's dress appealed 
to him. Fanny, Miss Drake, and Mr. Birch made a 
group by the fireplace; Mr. Birch was posing as an 
authority on the drama; Fanny, her dark eyes fixed 
upon Alicia, was not paying much attention; and 
Alicia, with ill-concealed impatience, was yawning 
behind her glove. Hugh Roughsedge was examining 
the Donatello photograph. 

'Do you like it?' said Diana, standing beside him. 

She was conscious of having rather neglected him at 
lunch, and there was a dancing something in her own 
heart which impelled her to kindness and compunction. 
Was not the good, inarticulate youth, too, going out 
into the wilds, his life in his hands, in the typical Eng- 
lish way? The soft look in her eyes which expressed 
this mingled feeling did not mislead the recipient. He 
had overheard Sir James Glide's message; he under- 
stood her. 

Presently, Mrs. Roughsedge, seeing that it was a 
sunny day and the garden looked tempting, asked to 
be allowed to inspect a new greenhouse that Diana was 
putting up. The door leading out of the drawing-room 
to the moat and the formal garden was thrown open ; 
cloaks and hats were brought, and the guests streamed 
out. 

'You are not coming?' said Hugh Roughsedge to 
Diana. 

At his question he saw a delicate flush, beyond her 
control, creep over her cheek and throat. 

'I I am expecting Mr. Marsham,' she said. 'Per- 
haps I ought to stay.' 

[ 200 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Sir James Chide looked at his watch. 

' He should be here any minute. We will overtake 
you, Captain Roughsedge.' 

Hugh went off beside Mrs. Colwood. Well, well, it 
was all plain enough ! It was only a fortnight since the 
Marshams had gone up to town for the Parliamentary 
season. And here he was, again upon the scene. Im- 
possible, evidently, to separate them longer. Let them 
only get engaged, and be done with it ! He stalked on 
beside Mrs. Colwood, tongue-tied and miserable. 

Meanwhile, Sir James lingered with Diana. 'A 
charming old place ! ' he said, looking about him. ' But 
Marsham tells me the Vavasours have been odious/ 

'We have got the better of them! Mr. Marsham 
helped me/ 

'He has an excellent head, has Oliver. This year 
he will have special need of it. It will be a critical time 
for him/ 

Diana gave a vague assent. She had, in truth, two 
recent letters from Marsham in her pocket at that mo- 
ment, giving a brilliant and minute account of the Par- 
liamentary situation. But she hid the fact, warm and 
close, like a brooding bird ; only drawing on her com- 
panion to talk politics, that she might hear Marsham 's 
name sometimes, and realise the situation Marsham 
had described to her, from another point of view. - 
And all the time her ear listened for the sound of hoofs, 
and for the front door-bell. 

At last! The peal echoed through the old house. 
Sir James rose, and, instinctively, Diana rose too. Was 
there a smile humorous and tender in the law- 
yer's grey eyes? 

[ 201 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I'll go and finish my cigarette out-of-doors. Such 
a tempting afternoon!' 

And out he hurried, before Diana could stop him. 
She remained standing, with soft, hurrying breath, 
looking out into the garden. On a lower terrace she 
saw Fanny and Alicia Drake walking together, and 
could not help a little laugh of amusement that seemed 
to come out of a heart of content. Then the door 
opened, and Marsham was there. 



CHAPTER IX 

MARSHAM'S first feeling, as he advanced into the 
room, and, looking round him, saw . that Diana was 
alone, was one of acute physical pleasure. The old room 
with its mingling of colour, at once dim and rich ; the 
sunlit garden through the casement windows ; the scent 
of the logs burning on the hearth, and of the hyacinths 
and narcissus with which the warm air was perfumed ; 
the signs everywhere of a woman's life and charm; 
all these first impressions leapt upon him, aiding the 
remembered spell which had recalled him hot-foot 
and eager from London, to this place, on the very 
first opportunity. 

And if her surroundings were poetic, how much more 
so was the girl -figure itself ! the slender form, the 
dark head, and that shrinking joy which spoke in her 
gesture, in the movement she made toward him across 
the room. She checked it at once, but not before a 
certain wildness in it had let loose upon him a rush of 
delight. 

'Sir James explained?' he said, as he took her hand. 

' Yes. I had no notion you would be here this 
week-end/ 

'Nor had I till last night. Then an appointment 
broken down and me void ! ' 

'You stay over to-morrow ?' 

' Of course ! But it is absurd that the Feltons should 
be five miles away 1 / 

[ 203 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She stammered : 

'It is a charming ride/ 

'But too long! One does not want to lose time/ 

She was now sitting ; and he beside her. Mechan- 
ically she had taken up some embroidery to shield 
her eyes. He examined the reds and blues of the pat- 
tern, the white fingers, the bending cheek. Suddenly, 
like Sir James Chide or Hugh Roughsedge, he was 
struck with a sense of change. The Dian look which 
matched her name, the proud gaiety and frankness 
of it, were somehow muffled and softened. And alto- 
gether her aspect was a little frail and weary. The 
perception brought with it an appeal to the protective 
strength of the man. What were her cares? Trifling, 
womanish things ! He would make her confess them ; 
and then conjure them away ! 

'You have your cousin with you?' 

'Yes/ 

'She will make you a long visit?' 

'Another week or two, I think/ 

'You are a believer in family traditions? But of 
course you are ! ' 

'Why "of course"?' Her colour had sparkled again, 
but the laugh was not spontaneous. 

' I see that you are in love with even your furthest 
kinsmen you must be being an Imperialist! 
Now I am frankly bored by my kinsmen near and 
far/ 

'All the same you ask their help !' 

'Oh yes, in war; pure self-interest on both sides/ 

'You have been preaching this in the House of 
Commons?' 

[ 204 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The teasing had answered. No more veiling of the 
eyes! 

'No I have made no speeches. Next week, in the 
Vote of Censure debate, I shall get my chance/ 

' To talk Little Englandism? Alack!' 

The tone was soft it ended in a sigh. 

'Does it really trouble you?' 

She was looking down at her work. Her fingers drew 
the silk out and in a little at random. She shook her 
head slightly, without reply. 

'I believe it does,' he said, gently, still smiling. 
'Well, when I make my speech, I shall remember 
that.' 

She looked up suddenly. Their eyes met full. On 
her just parted lips the words she had meant to say re- 
mained unspoken. Then a murmur of voices from the 
garden reached them, as though some one approached. 
Marsham rose. 

'Shall we go into the garden? I ought to speak to 
Robins. How is he getting on?' 

Robins was the new head gardener, appointed on 
Marsham's recommendation. 

'Excellently.' Diana had also risen. 'I will get my 
hat.' 

He opened the door for her. Hang those people out- 
side ! But for them she would have been already in his 
arms. 

Left to himself, he walked to and fro, restless and 
smiling. No more self -repression no more politic de- 
lay ! The great moment of life grasped captured 
at last ! He in his turn understood the Faust-cry - 
' Linger a while ! thou art so fair ! ' Only let him 
[ 205 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

pierce to the heart of it realise it, covetously, to 
the full ! All the ordinary worldly motives were plac- 
ated and at rest ; due sacrifice had been done to them ; 
they teased no more. Upgathered and rolled away, 
like storm-winds from the sea, they had left a shining 
and a festal wave for love to venture on. Let him only 
yield himself feel the full swell of the divine force ! 

He moved to the window, and looked out. 

Birch! What on earth brought that creature to 
Beechcote. His astonishment was great, and perhaps 
in the depths of his mind there emerged the half- 
amused perception of a feminine softness and toler- 
ance which masculine judgement must correct. She 
did not know how precious she was ; and that it must 
not be made too easy for the common world to ap- 
proach her. All that was picturesque and important, 
of course, in the lower classes ; Labour men, Socialists, 
and the like. But not vulgar, half-baked fellows, who 
meant nothing politically, and must yet be treated 
like gentlemen. Ah ! There were the Roughsedges 
the Captain not gone yet? Sir James and Mrs. 
Colwood nice little creature, that companion 
they would find some use for her in the future. And 
on the lower terrace, Alicia Drake, and that girl? 
He laughed, amusing himself with the thought of 
Alicia's plight. Alicia, the arrogant, the fastidious! 
The odd thing was that she seemed to be absorbed in 
the conversation that was going on. He saw her pause 
at the end of the terrace, look round her, and delib- 
erately lead the way down a long grass path, away 
from the rest of the party. Was the cousin good 
company, after all? 

[ 206 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana returned. A broad black hat, and sables 
which had been her father's last gift to her, provided 
the slight change in surroundings which pleases the 
eye and sense of a lover. And as a man brought up in 
wealth, and himself potentially rich, he found it se- 
cretly agreeable that costly things became her. There 
should be no lack of them in the future. 

They stepped out upon the terrace. At sight of them 
the Roughsedges approached, while Mr. Fred Birch 
lagged behind to inspect the sundial. After a few 
words' conversation, Marsham turned resolutely away. 

'Miss Mallory wants to show me a new gardener.' 

The old doctor smiled at his wife. Hugh Rough- 
sedge watched the departing figures. Excellently 
matched, he must needs admit, in aspect and in height. 
Was it about to happen? or had it already hap- 
pened? He braced himself, soldierlike, to the inevit- 
able. 

'You know Mr. Birch?' said Diana to her compan- 
ion, as they descended to the lower terrace, and passed 
not very far from that gentleman. 

'I just know him,' said Marsham, carelessly, and 
bestowed a nod in the direction of the solicitor. 

'Had he not something to do with your election?' 
said Diana, astonished. 

'My election? 'cried Marsham. Then he laughed. 'I 
suppose he has been drawing the long bow, as usual. 
Am I impertinent? or may I ask, how you came to 
know him?' 

He looked at her smiling. Diana coloured. 

' My Cousin Fanny made acquaintance with him 
in the train/ 

[ 207 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' I see. Here are our two cousins coming to meet 
us. Will you introduce me?' 

For Fanny and Miss Drake were now returning 
slowly along the gravel path which led to the kitchen 
garden. The eyes of both girls were fixed on the pair 
advancing toward them. Alicia was no longer impass- 
ive or haughty. Like her companion, she appeared to 
have been engaged in an intimate and absorbing con- 
versation. Diana could not help looking at her in a 
vague surprise as she paused in front of them. But she 
addressed herself to her cousin. 

'Fanny, I want to introduce Mr. Marsham to you/ 

Fanny Merton held out her hand, staring a little 
oddly at the gentleman presented to her. 

Alicia meanwhile was looking at Diana, while she 
spoke with emphasis to Marsham. 

'Could you order my horse, Oliver? I think we 
ought to be going back.' 

'Would you mind asking Sir James?' Marsham 
pointed to the upper terrace. ' I have something to see 
to in the garden.' 

Diana said hurriedly that Mrs. Col wood would send 
the order to the stables, and that she herself would not 
be long. 

Alicia took no notice of this remark. She still looked 
at Oliver. 'You'll come back with us, won't you?' 

Marsham flushed. 'I have only just arrived,' he 
said, rather sharply. ' Please don't wait for me. - 
Shall we go on?' he said, turning to Diana. 

They walked on. As Diana paused at the iron gate 
which closed the long walk, she looked round her in- 
voluntarily, and saw that Alicia and Fanny were now 
[ 208 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

standing on the lower terrace, gazing after them. It 
struck her as strange and rude, and she felt the slight 
shock she had felt several times already, both in her 
intercourse with Fanny and in her acquaintance with 
Miss Drake as of one unceremoniously jostled or 
repulsed. 

Marsham meanwhile was full of annoyance. That 
Alicia should still treat him in that domestic, possess- 
ive way and in Diana's presence was really in- 
tolerable. It must be stopped. 

He paused on the other side of the gate. 

'After all, I am not in a mood to see Robins to-day. 
Look ! the light is going. Will you show me the path 
on to the hill? You spoke to me once of a path you 
were fond of/ 

She tried to laugh. 

' You take Robins for granted ? ' 

' I am quite indifferent to his virtues even his 
vices ! This chance is too precious. I have so much 
to say to you.' 

She led the way in silence. The hand which held up 
her dress from the mire trembled a little unseen. But 
her sense of the impending crisis had given her more 
rather than less dignity. She bore her dark head finely, 
with that unconscious, long-descended instinct of the 
woman, waiting to be sued. 

They found a path beyond the garden, winding up 
through a leafless wood. Marsham talked of indifferent 
things, and she answered him with spirit, feeling it all, 
so far, a queer piece of acting. Then they emerged on 
the side of the hill beside a little basin in the chalk, 
where a gnarled thorn or two, an overhanging beech, 
[ 209 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and a bed of withered heather, made a kind of intimate, 
furnished place, which appealed to the passer-by. 

'Here is the sunset/ said Marsham, looking round 
him. 'Are you afraid to sit a little?' 

He took a light overcoat he had been carrying over 
his arm and spread it on the heather. She protested 
that it was winter, and coats were for wearing. He 
took no notice, and she tamely submitted. He placed 
her regally, with an old thorn for support and canopy ; 
and then he stood a moment beside her gazing west- 
ward. 

They looked over undulations of the chalk, bare 
stubble-fields and climbing woods, bathed in the pale 
gold of a February sunset. The light was pure and 
wan the resting earth shone through it gently yet 
austerely ; only the great woods darkly massed on the 
horizon gave an accent of mysterious power to a scene 
in which Nature otherwise showed herself the tamed 
and homely servant of men. Below were the trees of 
Beechcote, the grey walls, and the windows touched 
with a last festal gleam. 

Suddenly Marsham dropped down beside her. 

'I see it all with new eyes/ he said, passionately. 
' I have lived in this country from my childhood ; and 
I never saw it before ! Diana ! ' 

He raised her hand, which only faintly resisted ; he 
looked into her eyes. She had grown very pale en- 
chantingly pale. There was in her the dim sense of a 
great fulfilment; the fulfilment of Nature's promise to 
her ; implicit in her woman's lot from the beginning. 

' Diana ! ' the low voice searched her heart - 
'you know what I have come to say? I meant to 
[ 210 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

have waited a little longer I was afraid ! but I 
could n't wait it was beyond my strength. Diana ! 

- come to me, darling ! be my wife !' 

He kissed the hand he held. His eyes beseeched; 
and into hers, widely fixed upon him, had sprung tears 

- the tears of life's supremest joy. Her lip trembled. 
' I 'm not worthy ! ' she said, in a whisper ' I'm not 

worthy!' 

' Foolish Diana ! Darling, foolish Diana ! Give 
me my answer!' 

And now he held both hands, and his confident 
smile dazzled her. 

' I - ' Her voice broke. She tried again, still in a 
whisper. ' I will be everything to you that a woman 
can.' 

At that he put his arm round her, and she let him 
take that first kiss, in which she gave him her youth, 
her life all that she had and was. Then she with- 
drew herself, and he saw her brow contract, and her 
mouth. 

' I know !' - - he said, tenderly ' I know ! Dear, I 
think he would have been glad. He and I made friends 
from the first.' 

She plucked at the heather beside her, trying for 
composure. 

'He would have been so glad of a son so glad 

And then, by contrast with her own happiness, the 
piteous memory of her father overcame her; and 
she cried a little, hiding her eyes against Marsham's 
shoulder. 

'There!' she said, at last, withdrawing herself, and 
brushing the tears away. 'That's all that's done 
[ 211 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

with except in one's heart. Did did Lady Lucy 
know?' 

She looked at him timidly. Her aspect had never 
been more lovely. Tears did not disfigure her, and as 
compared with his first remembrance of her, there was 
now a touching significance, an incomparable softness 
in all she said and did, which gave him a bewildering 
sense of treasures to come, of joys for the gathering. 

Suddenly involuntarily there flashed through 
his mind the recollection of his first love-passage 
with Alicia how she had stung him on, teased, and 
excited him. He crushed it at once, angrily. 

As to Lady Lucy, he smilingly declared that she had 
no doubt guessed something was in the wind. 

' I have been " gey ill to live with " since we got up to 
town. And when the stupid meeting I had promised to 
speak at was put off, my mother thought I had gone off 
my head from my behaviour. " What are you going 
to the Feltons' for? You never care a bit about 
them." So at last I brought her the map and made 
her look at it. " Felton Park to Brinton, 3 miles 
Haylesford, 4 miles Beechcote, 2 miles and i - 
Beechcote Manor, half a mile total, ten miles." 
" Oliver ! " - she got so red ! " you are going to pro- 
pose to Miss Mallory !" "Well, mother! and what 
have you got to say?" So then she smiled and 
kissed me and sent you messages which I '11 give 
you when there's time. My mother is a rather formid- 
able person no one who knew her would ever dream 
of taking her consent to anything for granted ; but this 
time' - - his laugh was merry ' I did n't even think 
of asking it!' 

[ 212 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I shall love her dearly/ murmured Diana. 

'Yes, because you won't be afraid of her. Her 
standards are hardly made for this wicked world. But 
you'll hold her you'll manage her. If you'd said 
"No" to me, she would have felt cheated of a daugh- 
ter/ 

'I'm afraid Mrs. Fotheringham won't like it/ said 
Diana, ruefully, letting herself be gathered again into 
his arms. 

'My sister? I don't know what to say about Isabel, 
dearest unless I parody an old saying. She and I 
have never agreed except in opinion. We have been 
on the same side and in hot opposition since our 
childhood. No I dare say she will be thorny ! Why 
did you fight me so well, little rebel?' 

He looked down into her dark eyes, revelling in their 
sweetness, and in the bliss of her surrendered beauty. 
If this was not his first proposal, it was his first true 
passion of that he was certain. 

She released herself rosy and still thinking of 
Mrs. Fotheringham. 

' Oliver ! ' she laid her hand shyly on his ' neither 
she nor you will want me to stifle what I think to 
deny what I do really believe? I dare say a woman's 
politics are n't worth much' she laughed and sighed. 

' I say ! don't take that line with Isabel !' 

'Well, mine probably aren't worth much but 
they are mine and papa taught them me and I 
can't give them up.' 

'What '11 you do, darling? canvass against me?' 
He kissed her hand again. 

'No but I can't agree with you!' 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Of course you can't. Which of us, I wonder, will 
shake the other? How do you know that I'm not in 
a blue fright for my principles?' 

'You'll explain to me? you'll not despise me?' 
she said, softly, bending towards him; 'I'll always, 
always try and understand.' 

Who could resist an attitude so feminine, yet so 
loyal, at once to old and new? Marsham felt himself 
already attacked by the poison of Toryism, and Diana, 
with a happy start, envisaged horizons that her father 
never knew, and questions where she had everything 
to learn. 

Hand in hand, trembling still under the thrill of the 
moment which had fused their lives, they fell into 
happy discursive talk : of the Tallyn visit of her 
thoughts and his of what Lady Lucy and Mr. Fer- 
rier had said, or would say. In the midst of it the fall 
of temperature, which came with the sunset, touched 
them, and Marsham sprang up with the peremptori- 
ness of a new relationship, insisting that he must take 
her home out of the chilly dusk. As they stood linger- 
ing in the hollow, unwilling to leave the gnarled thorns, 
the heather carpet, and the glow of western light 
symbols to them henceforth that they too, in their 
turn, amid the endless generations, had drunk the 
mystic cup, and shared the sacred feast Diana per- 
ceived some movement far below, on the open space in 
front of Beechcote. A little peering through the twi- 
light showed them two horses with their riders leaving 
the Beechcote door. 

' Oh ! your cousin and Sir James !' cried Diana, in 
distress, 'and I have n't said good-bye ' 
[ 214 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'You will see them soon again. And I shall carry 
them the news to-night/ 

'Will you? Shall I allow it?' 

Marsham laughed ; he caught her hand again, slipped 
it possessively within his left arm, and held it there 
as they went slowly down the path. Diana could not 
think with any zest of Alicia and her reception of the 
news. A succession of trifles had shown her quite 
clearly that Alicia was not her friend ; why, she did not 
know. She remembered many small advances on her 
own part. 

But at the mention of Sir James Chide, her face lit 
up. 

'He has been so kind to me!' she said, looking up 
into Marsham's face 'so very kind !' 

Her eyes showed a touch of passion ; the passion that 
some natures can throw into gratitude; whether for 
little or much. Marsham smiled. 

' He fell in love with you ! Yes he is a dear old 
boy. One can well imagine that he has had a romance ! ' 

'Has he?' 

' It is always said that he was in love with a woman 
whom he defended on a charge of murder/ 

Diana exclaimed. 

' He had met her when they were both very young, 
and lost his heart to her. Then she married and he lost 
sight of hen He accepted a brief in this murder case, 
ten years later, not knowing her identity, and they met 
for the first time when he went to see her with her 
solicitor in prison/ 

Diana breathlessly asked for the rest of the story. 

' He defended her magnificently. It was a shocking 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

case. The sentence was commuted, but she died 
almost immediately. They say Sir James has never 
got over it.' 

Diana pondered ; her eyes dim. 

' How one would like to do something for him ! to 
give him pleasure!' 

Marsham caressed her hand. 

' So you shall, darling. He shall be one of our best 
friends. But he must n't make Ferrier jealous.' 

Diana smiled happily. She looked forward to all the 
new ties of kindred or friendship that Marsham was to 
bring her modestly indeed, yet in the temper of one 
who feels herself spiritually rich and capable of giving. 

' I shall love all your friends/ she said, with a bright 
look. 'I'm glad you have so many!' 

' Does that mean that you've felt rather lonely some- 
times? Poor darling !' he said, tenderly, 'it must have 
been solitary often at Portofino.' 

' Oh no I had papa.' Then her truthfulness over- 
came her. ' I don't mean to say I did n't often want 
friends of my own age girl friends especially.' 

' You can't have them now ! ' he said, passionately, 
as they paused at a wicket-gate, under a yew-tree. ' I 
want you all all to myself.' 

And in the shadow of the yew he put his arms 
round her again, and their hearts beat together. 

But our nature moves within its own inexorable 
limits. In Diana, Marsham 's touch, Marsham's em- 
brace awakened that strange mingled happiness, that 
happiness reared and based on tragedy, which the pure 
and sensitive feel in the crowning moments of life. 
Love is tortured by its own intensity ; and the thought 
[ 216 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

of death strikes through the experience which means 
the life of the race. As her lips felt Marsham's kiss, she 
knew, as generations of women have known before her, 
that life could give her no more; and she also knew 
that it was transiency and parting that made it so 
intolerably sweet. 

'Till death us do part/ she said to herself. And in 
the intensity of her submission to the common lot she 
saw down the years the end of what had now begun 
herself lying quiet and blessed, in the last sleep, her 
dead hand in Marsham's. 

'Why must we go home?' he said, discontentedly, 
as he released her. ' One turn more ! up the avenue ! 
There is light enough yet!' 

She yielded weakly ; pacifying her social conscience 
by the half-penitent remark that Mrs. Colwood would 
have said good-bye to her guests, and that she - 
she supposed they would soon have to know. 

'Well, as I want you to marry me in six weeks/ said 
Marsham, joyously, 'I suppose they will/ 

' Six weeks ! ' She gasped. ' Oh, how unreasonable ! ' 

' Dearest ! a fortnight would do for frocks. And 
whom have we to consult but ourselves? I know you 
have no near relations. As for cousins, it does n't take 
long to write them a few notes, and ask them to the 
wedding.' 

Diana sighed. 

' My only cousins are the Mertons. They are all in 
Barbadoes but Fanny.' 

Her tone changed a little. In her thoughts, she 
added, hurriedly: 'I shan't have any bridesmaids!' 
[ 217 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marsham, discreetly, made no reply. Personally, he 
hoped that Miss Merton's engagements might take her 
safely back to Barbadoes before the wedding-day. But 
if not, he and his would no doubt know how to deal 
with her civilly and firmly as people must learn 
to deal with their distasteful relations. 

Meanwhile on Diana's mind there had descended a 
sudden cloud of thought, dimming the ecstasy of her 
joy. The February day was dying in a yellowish dusk, 
full of beauty. They were walking along a narrow 
avenue of tall limes which skirted the Beechcote lands, 
and took them past the house. Above their heads the 
trees met in a brown-and-purple tracery of boughs, 
and on their right, through the branches, they saw a 
pale full moon, throning it in a silver sky. The mild air, 
the movements of the birds, the scents from the earth 
and bushes spoke of spring ; and suddenly Diana per- 
ceived the gate leading to the wood where that very 
morning the subtle message of the changing year had 
come upon her, rending and probing. A longing to tell 
Marsham all her vague troubles rose in her, held back 
by a natural shrinking. But the longing prevailed, 
quickened by the loyal sense that she must quickly 
tell him all she knew about herself and her history, 
since there was nobody else to tell him. 

'Oliver!' she began, hurriedly 'I ought to tell 
you I don't think you know. My name was n't 
Mallory to begin with my father took that name.' 

Marsham gave a little start. 

' Dear how surprising ! and how interesting ! 
Tell me all you can from the year One.' 

He smiled upon her, with a sparkling look that 
[ 218 ] 



The Lime-Walk, Stocks 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

asked for all her history. But secretly he had been con- 
scious of a shock. Lately he had made a few inquiries 
about the Welsh Mallorys. And the answers had been 
agreeable; though the old central stock of the name, 
to which he presumed Diana belonged, was said to be 
extinct. No doubt so he had reflected it had 
come to an end in her father. 

' Mallory was the name of my father's mother. He 
took it for various reasons I never quite under- 
stood and I know a good deal of property came to 
him. But his original name my name was Spar- 
ling/ 

'Sparling'/ A pause. ' And have you any Sparling 
relations ? ' 

' No. They all died out I think but I know so 
little ! when I was small. However, I have a box of 
Sparling papers which I have never examined. Per- 
haps some day we might look at them together/ 

Her voice shook a little. 

'You have never looked at them?' 

'Never/ 

'But why, dearest?' 

' It always seemed to make papa so unhappy any- 
thing to do with his old name. Oliver !' - - she turned 
upon him suddenly, and for the first time she clung 
to him, hiding her face against his shoulder ' Oliver ! 
I don't know what made him unhappy I don't 
know why he changed his name. Sometimes I think 
- there may have been some terrible thing between 
him and my mother/ 

He put his arm round her, close and tenderly. 

'What makes you think that?' Then he whispered 
[ 219 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to her 'Tell your lover your husband tell him 
everything/ 

She shrank in delicious tremor from the great word, 
and it was a few moments before she could collect her 
thoughts. Then she said still resting against him 
in the dark and in a low, rapid voice, as though she 
followed the visions of an inner sense : 

' She died when I was only four. I just remember 
it is almost my first recollection of anything seeing 
her carried upstairs' She broke off. 'And oh! it's 
so strange ! ' 

'Strange? She was ill?' 

' Yes, but what I seem to remember never ex- 
plains itself and I did not dare to ask papa. She 
had n't been with us for a long time. Papa and I had 
been alone. Then one day I saw them carrying her up- 
stairs my father and two nurses I ran out before 
my nurse could catch me and saw her she. was in 
her hat and cloak. I did n't know her, and when she 
called me, I ran away. Then afterwards they took me 
in to see her in bed two or three times and I re- 
member once' - - Diana began to sob herself ' seeing 
her cry. She lay sobbing and my father beside her ; 
he held her hand and I saw him hide his eyes upon 
it. They never noticed me; I don't know that they saw 
me. Then they told me she was dead I saw her 
lying on the bed and my nurse gave me some flow- 
ers to put beside her some violets. They were the 
only flowers. I can see her still, lying there with her 
hands closed over them.' 

She released herself from Marsham, and, with her 
hand in his, she drew him slowly along the path, while 
[ 220 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

she went on speaking, with an effort indeed, yet with a 
marvellous sense of deliverance after the silence of 
years. She described the entire seclusion of their life 
at Portofino. 

'Papa never spoke to me of mamma, and I never 
remember a picture of her. After his death I saw a 
closed locket on his breast for the first time. I would 
not have opened it for the world I just kissed it - 
Her voice broke again; but after a moment she 
quietly resumed. ' He changed his name I think - 
when I was about nine years old. I remember that 
somehow it seemed to give him comfort he was 
more cheerful with me afterwards 

'And you have no idea what led him to go abroad?' 

She shook her head. Marsham's changed and rapid 
tone had betrayed some agitation in the mind behind ; 
but Diana did not notice it. In her story she had 
come to what, in truth, had been the determining and 
formative influence on her own life her father's 
melancholy, and the mystery in which it had been 
enwrapt; and even the perceptions of love were for 
the moment blinded as the old tyrannous grief over- 
shadowed her. 

' His life' she said, slowly 'seemed for years - 
one long struggle to bear what was really un- 
bearable. Then when I was about nineteen there was 
a change. He no longer shunned people quite in the 
same way, and he took me to Egypt and India. We 
came across old friends of his whom I, of course, had 
never seen before ; and I used to wonder at the way in 
which they treated him with a kind of reverence - 
as though they would not have touched him roughly 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

for the world. Then directly after we got home to the 
Riviera his illness began - 

She dwelt on the long days of dumbness, and her 
constant sense that he wished in vain to com- 
municate something to her. 

' He wanted something and I could not give it 
him could not even tell what it was. It was misery ! 
One day he managed to write : ' If you are in trouble, 
go to Riley & Bonner ask them.' They were his 
solicitors, whom he had depended on from his boy- 
hood. But since his death I have never wanted any- 
thing from them but a little help in business. They 
have been very good ; but I could not go and ques- 
tion them. If there was anything to know papa had 
not been able to tell me I did not want anybody 
else to - 

Her voice dropped. 

Only half an hour since the flowering of life ! What 
a change in both ! She was pacing along slowly, her 
head thrown back ; the oval of her face white among 
her furs, under the ghostly touch of the moonlight ; 
a suggestion of something austere finely remote 
in her attitude and movement. His eyes were on 
the ground, his shoulders bent ; she could not see his 
face. 

'We must try and unravel it together/ he said, 
at last, with an effort. ' Can you tell me your mother's 
name?' 

'It was an old Staffordshire family. But she and 

papa met in America, and they married there. Her 

father died not long afterwards, I think. And I have 

never heard of any relations but the one sister, Mrs. 

[ 222 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Merton. Her name was Wentworth. Oh !' It was an 
involuntary cry of physical pain. 

' Diana ! did I hurt your hand? my darling !' 

The sudden tightness of his grip had crushed her 
fingers. She smiled at him, as he kissed them, in hasty 
remorse. 

' And her Christian name?' he asked, in a low voice. 

'Juliet/ 

There was a pause. They had turned back, and were 
walking towards the house. The air had grown much 
colder ; frosty stars were twinkling, and a chilly wind 
was blowing light clouds across the moon. The two 
figures moved slowly in and out of the bands of light 
and shadow which crossed the avenue. 

Diana stopped suddenly. 

'If there were something terrible to know!' she 
said, trembling 'something which would make you 
ashamed of me !' 

Her tall slenderness bent towards him she held 
out her hands piteously. Marsham's manhood asserted 
itself. He encircled her again with his strong arm, and 
she hid her face against him. The contact of her soft 
body, her fresh cheek, intoxicated him afresh. In the 
strength of his desire for her, it was as though he were 
fighting off black vultures of the night, forces of horror 
that threatened them both. He would not believe 
what yet he already knew to be true. The thought of 
his mother clamoured at the door of his mind, and he 
would not open to it. In a reckless defiance of what 
had overtaken him, he poured out tender and passion- 
ate speech which gradually stilled the girl's tumult of 
memory and foreboding, and brought back the heaven 
[ 223 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

of their first moment on the hillside. Her own reserve 
broke down, and from her murmured words, her sweet- 
ness, her infinite gratitude, Marsham might divine 
still more fully the richness of that harvest which such 
a nature promised to a lover. 

' I won't tell any one but Muriel till you have 
seen Lady Lucy/ said Diana, as they approached the 
house, and found Marsham's horse waiting at the door. 

He acquiesced, and it was arranged that he should 
go up to town the following day, Sunday see Lady 
Lucy and return on the Monday. 

Then he rode away, waving his hand through the 
darkness. 

Marsham's horse carried him swiftly through coun- 
try roads, where the moon made magic, and peace 
reigned. But the mind of the rider groped in confusion 
and despair, seeing no way out. 

Only one definite purpose gathered strength to 
throw himself on the counsel of Sir James Chide. Chide 
had known from the beginning ! 



CHAPTER X 

MARSHAM reached Felton Hall about six o'clock. 
The house, a large Georgian erection, belonging to 
pleasant easy-going people with many friends, was full 
of guests, and the thought of the large party which he 
must face at dinner and in the evening had been an 
additional weight in his burden during the long ride 
home. 

No means of escaping it, or the gossip with regard 
to himself, which must, he knew, be raging among the 
guests ! 

That gossip had not troubled him when he had set 
forth in the early afternoon. Quite the contrary. It 
had amused him as he rode to Beechcote, full of con- 
fident hope, to think of announcing his engagement. 
What reason would there be for delay or concealment? 
He looked forward to the congratulations of old 
friends ; the more the better. 

The antithesis between ' then ' and ' now ' struck him 
sharply, as he dismounted. But for that last quarter 
of an hour with Diana, how jubilantly would he have 
entered the house ! Ten minutes with Lady Felton a 
dear, chattering woman ! and all would have been 
known. He pictured instinctively the joyous flutter in 
the house the merry dinner perhaps the toasts. 

As it was, he slipped quietly into the house, hoping 
that his return might pass unnoticed. He was thankful 
to find no one about the hall and drawing-room de- 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

serted. The women had gone up to rest before dinner; 
the men had not long before come back muddy from 
hunting, and were changing clothes. 

Where was Sir James Chide? 

He looked into the smoking-room. A solitary figure 
was sitting by the fire. Sir James had a new novel 
beside him ; but he was not reading, and his cigar lay 
half -smoked on the ash-tray beside him. 

He was gazing into the blaze, his head on his hand, 
and his quick start and turn as the door of the smoking- 
room opened showed him to be not merely thoughtful 
but expectant. 

He sprang up. 

'Is that you, Oliver?' 

He came forward eagerly. He had known Marsham 
from a child, had watched his career, and formed a 
very shrewd opinion of his character. But how this 
supreme moment would turn if, indeed, the su- 
preme moment had arrived Sir James had no idea. 

Marsham closed the door behind him, and in the 
lamplight the two men looked at each other. Mar- 
sham's brow was furrowed, his cheeks pale. His eyes, 
restless and bright, interrogated his old friend. At 
the first glance Sir James understood. He thrust his 
hands into his pockets. 

'You know?' he said, under his breath. 

Marsham nodded. 

'And you have known it all along?' 

' From the first moment, almost, that I set eyes on 
that poor child. Does she know? Have you broken it 
to her?' 

The questions hurried on each other's heels. Mar- 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

sham shook his 'head, and Sir James, turning away, 
made a sound that was almost a groan. 

'You have proposed to her?' 

'Yes/ 

'And she has accepted you?' 

'Yes.' 

Marsham walked to the mantelpiece, and hung 
over the fire. 

Sir James watched him for a moment, twisting his 
mouth. Then he walked up to his companion and laid 
a hand on his arm. 

'Stick it out, Oliver!' he said, breathing quick. 
'Stick it out! You'll have to fight but she's worth 
it.' 

Marsham 's hand groped for his. Sir James pressed it, 
and walked away again, his eyes on the carpet. 

When he came back, he said, shortly : 

'You know your mother will resist it to the last?' 

By this, Marsham had collected his forces, and as he 
turned to the lamplight, Sir James saw a countenance 
that reassured him. 

' I have no hope of persuading her. It will have to 
be faced.' 

' No, I fear there is no hope. She sees all such things 
in a false light. Forgive me we must both speak 
plainly. She will shudder at the bare idea of Juliet 
Sparling's daughter as your wife; she will think it 
means a serious injury to your career in reality 
it does nothing of the sort and she will regard it as 
her duty to assert herself.' 

' You and Ferrier must do all you can for me,' said 
Marsham, slowly. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'We shall do everything we can, but I do not flatter 
myself it will be of the smallest use. And supposing 
we make no impression what then?' 

Marsham paused a moment ; then looked up. 

' You know the terms of my father's will ? I am ab- 
solutely dependent on my mother. The allowance she 
makes me at present is quite inadequate for a man in 
Parliament, and she could stop it to-morrow/ 

'You might have to give up Parliament?' 

'I should very likely have to give up Parliament.' 

Sir James ruminated, and took up his half -smoked 
cigar for counsel. 

'I can't imagine, Oliver, that your mother would 
push her opposition to quite that point. But, in any 
case, you have forgotten Miss Mallory's own fortune.' 

' It has never entered into my thoughts ! ' cried Mar- 
sham, with an emphasis which Sir James knew to be 
honest. ' But, in any case, I cannot live upon my wife. 
If I could not find something to do, I should certainly 
give up politics.' 

His tone had become a little dry and bitter, his 
aspect grey. 

Sir James surveyed him a moment pondering. 

'You will find plenty of ways out, Oliver plenty! 
The sympathy of all the world will be with you. You 
have won a beautiful and noble creature. She has 
been brought up under a more than Greek fate. You 
will rescue her from it. You will show her how to face 
it and how to conquer it.' 

A tremor swept across Marsham's handsome 
mouth. But the perplexity and depression in the face 
remained. 

[ 228 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Sir James had a slight consciousness of rebuff. But 
it disappeared in his own emotion. He resumed : 

'She ought to be told the story perhaps with some 
omissions at once. Her mother' - - he spoke with a 
slow precision, forcing out the words 'was not a bad 
woman. If you like, I will break it to Miss Mallory. 
I am probably more intimately acquainted with the 
story than any one else now living/ 

Something in the tone, in the solemnity of the grey 
eyes, in the carriage of the grey head, touched Mar- 
sham to the quick. He laid a hand on his old friend's 
shoulder affectionately in mute thanks. 

' Diana mentioned her father's solicitors 3 

' I know' - - interrupted Sir James ' Riley & Bon- 
ner excellent fellows both of them still living. 
They probably have all the records. And I should n't 
wonder if they have a letter from Sparling. He 
must have made provision for the occasion that has 
now arisen.' 

'A letter? for Diana?' 

Sir James nodded. 'His behaviour to her was a 
piece of moral cowardice, I suppose. I saw a good deal 
of him during the trial, of course, though it is years now 
since I lost all trace of him. He was a sensitive, shy 
fellow, wrapped up in his archaeology, and very ignor- 
ant of the world when it all happened. It tore him 
up by the roots. His life withered in a day/ 

Marsham flushed. 

' He had no right to bring her up in this complete 
ignorance! He could not have done anything more 
cruel ! more fatal ! No one knows what the effect 
may be upon her/ 

[ 229 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

And with a sudden rush of passion through the 
blood, he seemed to hold her once more in his arms, 
he felt the warmth of her cheek on his ; all her fresh 
and fragrant youth was present to him, the love in her 
voice, and in her proud eyes. He turned away, threw 
himself into a chair, and buried his face in his hands. 

Sir James looked down upon him. Instead of sym- 
pathy, there was a positive lightening in the elder 
man's face a gleam of satisfaction. 

'Cheer up, old fellow!' he said, in a low voice. 
'You'll bring her through. You stand by her, and 
you'll reap your reward. By Gad, there are many men 
who would envy you the chance ! ' 

Marsham made no reply. Was it his silence that 
evoked in the mind of Sir James the figure which 
already held the mind of his companion? the figure 
of Lady Lucy? He paced up and down, with the im- 
age before him the spare form, resolutely erect, the 
delicate resolution of the face, the prim perfection of 
the dress judged by the Quakerish standard of its 
owner. Lady Lucy almost always wore gloves white 
or grey. In Sir James's mind the remembrance of them 
took a symbolic importance. What use in expecting 
the wearer of them to handle the blood and mire of 
Juliet Sparling's story with breadth and pity? 

' Look here ! ' he said, coming to a sudden stop. ' Let 
us decide at once on what is to be done. You said 
nothing to Miss Mallory?' 

'Nothing. But she is already in some trouble and 
misgiving about the past. She is in the mood to inquire ; 
she has been, I think, for some time. And, naturally, 
she wishes to hide nothing from me/ 
[ 230 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'She will write to Riley & Bonner,' said Sir James, 
quietly. ' She will probably write to-night. They may 
take steps to acquaint her with her history or they 
may not. It depends. Meanwhile, who else is likely to 
know anything about the engagement?' 

' Diana was to tell Mrs. Colwood her companion; 
no one else/ 

' Nice little woman ! all right there ! But 7 - - Sir 
James gave a slight start 'what about the cousin?' 

'MissMerton? Oh no! There is clearly no sympathy 
between her and Diana. How could there be?' 

' Yes but, my dear fellow ! that girl knows - 
must know everything there is to know ! And she 
dislikes Diana ; she is jealous of her ; that I saw quite 
plainly this afternoon. And, moreover, she is probably 
quite well informed about you and your intentions. 
She gossiped half through lunch with that ill-bred fel- 
low Birch. I heard your name once or twice. Oh ! 
and by the way !' - - Sir James turned sharply on his 
heel 'what was she confabulating about with Miss 
Drake all that time in the garden? Did they know 
each other before?' 

Marsham replied in the negative. But he, too, was 
disagreeably arrested by the recollection of the two 
girls walking together, and of the intimacy and anima- 
tion of their talk. And he could recall what Sir James, 
had not seen the strangeness of Alicia's manner, 
and the peremptoriness with which she had endeav- 
oured to carry him home with her. Had she after 
hearing the story tried to interrupt or postpone the 
crucial scene with Diana? That seemed to him 
the probable explanation, and the idea roused in 
[ 231 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

him a hot and impotent anger. What business was 
it of hers? 

' H'm ! ' said Sir James. ' You may be sure that Miss 
Drake is now in the secret. She was very discreet on 
the way home. But she will take sides; and not, I 
think, with us. She seems to have a good deal of influ- 
ence with your mother/ 

Marsham reluctantly admitted it. 

'My sister, too, will be hostile. Don't let's forget 
that/ 

Sir James shrugged his shoulders, with the smile of 
one who is determined to keep his spirits up. 

' Well, my dear Marsham, you have your battle cut 
out for you ! Don't delay it. Where is Lady Lucy?' 

' In town/ 

' Can't you devise some excuse that will take you 
back to her early to-morrow morning?' 

Marsham thought over it. Easy enough, if only the 
engagement were announced ! But both agreed that 
silence was imperative. Whatever chance there might 
be with Lady Lucy would be entirely destroyed were the 
matter made public before her son had consulted her. 

'Everybody here is on the tiptoe of expectation,' 
said Sir James. ' But that you know ; you must face it 
somehow. Invent a letter from Ferrier some party 
contretemps anything ! I '11 help you through. And 
if you see your mother in the morning, I will turn up 
in the afternoon/ 

The two men paused. They were standing together 
in conference ; but each was conscious of a back- 
ground of hurrying thoughts that had so far been 
hardly expressed at all. 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marsham suddenly broke out : 

'Sir James! I know you thought there were 
excuses almost justification for what that poor 
creature did. I was a boy of fifteen at the time you 
made your famous speech, and I only know it by 
report. You spoke, of course, as an advocate but 
I have heard it said that you expressed your own 
personal belief. Wherever the case is discussed, there 
are still as you know two opinions one more 
merciful than the other. If the line you took was not 
merely professional ; if you personally believed your 
own case ; can you give me some of the arguments - 
you were probably unable to state them all in court 
that convinced you? Let me have something where- 
with to meet my mother. She won't look at this alto- 
gether from the worldly point of view. She will have 
a standard of her own. Merely to belittle the thing, as 
long past and forgotten, won't help me. But if I could 
awaken her pity ! if you could give me the where- 
withal rrf 

Sir James turned away. He walked to the window 
and stood there a minute, his face invisible. When 
he returned, his pallor betrayed what his steady 
and dignified composure would otherwise have con- 
cealed. 

' I can tell you what Mrs. Sparling told me in 
prison with the accents of a dying woman what 
I believed then what I believe now. Moreover, I 
have some comparatively recent confirmation of this 
belief. But this is too public!' --he looked round 
the library 'we might be disturbed. Come to my 
room to-night. I shall go up early, on the plea of let- 
[ 233 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ters. I always carry with me certain documents. 
For her child's sake, I will show them to you/ 

At the last words the voice of the speaker, rich in 
every tender and tragic note, no less than in those of 
irony or invective, wavered for the first time. He 
stooped abruptly, took up the book he had been read- 
ing, and left the room. 

Marsham, too, went upstairs. As he passed along 
the main corridor to his room, lost in perplexity and 
foreboding, he heard the sound of a woman's dress, 
and, looking up, saw Alicia Drake coming toward him. 

She started at sight of him, and under the bright 
electric light of the passage he saw her redden. 

'Well, Oliver! you stayed a good while/ 

' Not so very long. I have been home nearly an hour. 
I hope the horses went well !' 

' Excellently. Do you know where Sir James is?' 

It seemed to him the question was significantly 
asked. He gave it a cold answer. 

' Not at this moment. He was in the smoking-room 
a little while ago/ 

He passed her abruptly. Alicia Drake pursued her 
way to the hall. She was carrying some letters to the 
post-box near the front door. When she arrived there 
she dropped two of them in at once, and held the other 
a moment in her hand, looking at it. It was addressed 
to 'Mrs. Fotheringham, Manningham House, Leeds/ 

Meanwhile, Diana herself was wrestling with her 
own fate. 

When Marsham rode away from her, and she had 
watched his tall figure disappear into the dusk, she 
[ 234 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

turned back toward the house, and saw it and the world 
round it with new eyes. The moon shone on the old 
front, mellowing it to a brownish ivory ; the shadows 
of the trees lay clear on the whitened grass ; and in the 
luminous air colours of sunrise and of moonrise blend- 
ed, tints of pearl, of gold, and purple. A consecrating 
beauty lay on all visible things, and spoke to the girl's 
tender and passionate heart. In the shadow of the 
trees she stood a moment, her hands clasped on her 
breast, recalling Marsham's words of love and comfort, 
resting on him, reaching out through him to the Power 
behind the world, which spoke surely through this 
loveliness of the night, this joy in the soul ! 
And yet, her mood, her outlook like Marsham's 

- was no longer what it had been on the hillside. No 
ugly light of revelation had broken upon her, as upon 
him. But the conversation in the lime-walk had so- 
bered the first young exaltation of love ; it had some- 
how divided them from the happy lovers of every day ; 
it had also divided them she hardly knew how or 
why from that moment on the hill when Oliver had 
spoken of immediate announcement and immediate 
marriage. Nothing was to be said except to Muriel 

- till Lady Lucy knew. She was glad. It made her 
bliss, in this intervening moment, more fully her own. 
She thought with yearning of Oliver's interview with 
his mother. A filial, though a trembling love sprang 
up in her. And the sense of having come to shelter 
and to haven seemed to give her strength for what 
she had never yet dared to face. The past was now 
to be probed, interrogated. She was firmly resolved to 
write to Riley & Bonner, to examine any papers there 

[ 235 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

might be; not because she was afraid that anything 
might come between her and Oliver; rather because 
now, with his love to support her, she could bear what- 
ever there might be to bear. 

She stepped into the house. Some one was strum- 
ming in the drawing-room with intervals between 
the strummings as though the player stopped to 
listen for something or some one. Diana shrank into 
herself. She ran upstairs noiselessly to her sitting- 
room, and opened the door as quietly as possible. 

1 Muriel!' 

The voice was almost a whisper. Mrs. Colwood did 
not hear it. She was bending over the fire, with her 
back to the door, and a reading-lamp beside her. To 
her amazement, Diana heard a sob, a sound of stifled 
grief, which struck a sudden chill through her own 
excitement. She paused a moment, and repeated her 
friend's name. Mrs. Colwood started. She hastily 
rose, turning her face from Diana. 

' Is that you? I thought you were still out/ 

Diana crossed the floor, and put her arm round the 
little gentlewoman, whose breath was still shaken by 
the quiet sobs she was trying desperately to repress. 

'Muriel, dear! what is it?' 

Mrs. Colwood found her voice, and her composure. 

'Nothing! I was foolish it does n't matter/ 

Diana was sure she understood. She was suddenly 
ashamed to bring her own happiness into this desolate 
and widowed presence, and the kisses with which, 
mutely, she tried to comfort her friend, were almost 
a plea to be forgiven. 

But Muriel drew herself away. She looked search- 
[ 236 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ingly, with recovered self-command, into Diana's 
face. 

'Has Mr. Marsham gone?' 

'Yes/ said Diana, looking at her. 

Then the smile within broke out, flooding eyes and 
lips. Under the influence of it, Mrs. Col wood's small, 
tear-stained face passed through a .quick instinctive 
change. She, too, smiled as though she could not help 
it ; then she bent forward and kissed Diana. 

1 Is it all right?' 

The peculiar eagerness in the tone struck Diana. 
She returned the kiss, a little wistfully. 

'Were you so anxious about me? Wasn't it 
rather plain?' 

Mrs. Colwood laughed. 

'Sit down there, and tell me all about it.' 

She pushed Diana into a chair and sat down at her 
feet. Diana, with some difficulty, her hand over her 
eyes, told all that could be told of a moment the heart 
of which no true lover betrays. Muriel Colwood listened 
with her face against the girl's dress, sometimes press- 
ing her lips to the hand beside her. 

'Is he going to see Lady Lucy to-morrow?' she 
asked, when Diana paused. 

'Yes. He goes up by the first train.' 

Both were silent a while. Diana, in the midst of all 
the natural flutter of blood and pulse, was conscious 
of a strong yearning to tell her friend more to say : 
' And he has brought me comfort and courage as 
well as love ! I shall dare now to look into the past 
to take up my father's burden. If it hurts, Oliver will 
help me.' 

[ 237 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

But she had been brought up in a school of reti- 
cence, and her loyalty to her father and mother sealed 
her lips. That anxiety, that burden, nobody must 
share with her but Oliver and perhaps his mother; 
his mother, so soon to be hers. 

Muriel Colwood, watching her face, could hardly 
restrain herself. But the moment for which her whole 
being was waiting in a tension scarcely to be borne had 
not yet come. She chastened and rebuked her own 
dread. 

They talked a little of the future. Diana, in a blessed 
fatigue, threw herself back in her chair, and chattered 
softly, listening now and then for the sounds of the 
piano in the room below, and evidently relieved when- 
ever, after a silence, fresh fragments from some comic 
opera of the day, much belied in the playing, pene- 
trated to the upper floor. Meanwhile, neither of them 
spoke of Fanny Merton. Diana, with a laugh, repeated 
Marsham's proposal for a six weeks' engagement. That 
was absurd ! But, after all, it could not be very long. 
She hoped Oliver would be content to keep Beechcote. 
They could, of course, always spend a good deal of 
time with Lady Lucy. 

And in mentioning that name she showed not the 
smallest misgiving, not a trace of uneasiness, while 
every time it was uttered it pricked the shrinking 
sense of her companion. Mrs. Colwood had not watched 
and listened during her Tallyn visit for nothing. 

At last a clock struck downstairs, and a door 
opened. 

Diana sprang up. 

' Time to dress ! And I ' ve left Fanny alone all this 
[ 238 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

while!' She hurried towards the door; then turned 
back. 

' Please ! I'm not going to tell Fanny just yet. 
Neither Fanny nor any one till Lady Lucy knows. 
What happened after we went away? Was Fanny 
amused?' 

'Very much, I should say.' 

'She made friends with Miss Drake?' 

'They were inseparable, till Miss Drake departed.' 

Diana laughed. 

' How odd ! That I should never have prophesied. 
And Mr. Birch? I need n't have him to lunch again, 
need I?' 

'Miss Merton invited him to tea on Saturday.' 

Diana reddened. 

'Must I !' she said, impetuously; then stopped 
herself, and opened the door. 

Outside, Fanny Merton was just mounting the 
stairs, a candle in her hand. She stopped in astonish- 
ment at the sight of Diana. 

'Diana! where have you been all this time?' 

'Only talking to Muriel. We heard you playing; 
so we thought you were n't dull,' said Diana, rather 
penitently. 

' I was only playing till you came in,' was the sharp 
reply. 'When did Mr. Marsham go?' 

Diana by this time was crossing the landing to the 
door of her room, with Fanny behind her. 

'Oh, quite an hour ago. Had n't we better dress? 
Dinner will be ready directly.' 

Fanny took no notice. She entered her cousin's 
room, in Diana's wake. 

[ 239 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Well?' she said, interrogatively. She leant her 
back against the wardrobe, and folded her arms. 

Diana turned. She met Fanny's black eyes, spark- 
ling with excitement. 

Til give you my news at dinner/ said Diana, flush- 
ing against her will. 'And I want to know how you 
liked Miss Drake/ 

Fanny's eyes shot fire. 

'That's all very fine! That means, of course, that 
you're not going to tell me anything!' 

'Fanny!' cried Diana, helplessly. 

She was held spellbound by the passion, the menace 
in the girl's look. But the touch of shrinking in her 
attitude roused brutal violence in Fanny. 

' Yes, "it does !' she said, fiercely. ' I understand ! 
don't I! I am not good enough for you, and you'll 
make me feel it. You're going to make a smart mar- 
riage, and you won't care whether you ever set eyes on 
any of us again. Oh ! I know you've given us money 

- or you say you will. If I knew which side my bread 
was buttered, I suppose I should hold my tongue. - 
But when you treat me like the dirt under your feet 

- when you tell everything to that woman Mrs. Col- 
wood, who's no relation, and nothing in the world 
to you and leave me kicking my heels all alone, 
because I 'm not the kind you want, and you wish to 
goodness I 'd never come when you show as plain 
as you can that I'm a common creature not fit to 
pick up your gloves ! I tell you I just won't stand it. 
No one would who knew what I know !' 

The last words were flung in Diana's teeth with all 
the force that wounded pride and envious wrath could 
F 240 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

give them. Diana tottered a little. Her hand clung to 
the dressing-table behind her. 

' What do you know? ' she said. ' Tell me at once 
what you mean.' 

Fanny contemptuously shook her head. She walked 
to the door, and before Diana could stop her, she had 
rushed across to her own room and locked herself in. 

There she walked up and down panting. She hardly 
understood her own rage, and she was quite conscious 
that, for her own interests, she had acted during the 
whole afternoon like a fool. First, stung by the pique 
excited in her by the talk of the luncheon-table, she had 
let herself be exploited and explored by Alicia Drake. 
She had not meant to tell her secret, but somehow she 
had told it, simply to give herself importance with 
this smart lady, and to feel her power over Diana. 
Then, it was no sooner told than she was quickly con- 
scious that she had given away an advantage, which 
from a tactical point of view she had infinitely better 
have kept; and that the command of the situation 
might have passed from her to this girl whom Diana 
had supplanted. Furious with herself, she had tried 
to swear Miss Drake to silence, only to be politely but 
rather scornfully put aside. 

Then the party had broken up. Mr. Birch had been 
offended by the absence of the hostess, and had vouch- 
safed but a careless good-bye to Miss Merton. The 
Roughsedges went off without asking her to visit 
them ; and as for the Captain, he was an odious young 
man. Since their departure, Mrs. Colwood had neg- 
lected her, and now Diana's secret return, her long 
talk with Mrs. Colwood, had filled the girl's cup of 
[ 241 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

bitterness. She had secured that day a thousand 
pounds for her family and herself ; and at the end of it, 
she merely felt that the day had been an abject and 
intolerable failure ! Did the fact that she so felt it bear 
strange witness to the truth that at the bottom of her 
anger and her cruelty there was a masked and distorted 
something which was not wholly vile which was, 
in fact, the nature's tribute to something nobler than 
itself? That Diana shivered at and repulsed her was 
the hot iron that burnt and seared. And that she 
richly deserved it and knew it made its smart 
not a whit the less. 

Fanny did not appear at dinner. Mrs. Colwood and 
Diana dined alone Diana very white and silent. 
After dinner, Diana began slowly to climb the shallow 
old staircase. Mrs. Colwood followed her. 

'Where are you going?' she said, trying to hold her 
back. 

Diana looked at her. In the girl's eyes there was 
a sudden and tragic indignation. 

'Do you all know?' she said, under her breath 
'all all of you?' 

And again she began to mount, with a resolute step. 

Mrs. Colwood dared not follow her any further. 
Diana went quickly up and along the gallery; she 
knocked at Fanny's door. After a moment Mrs. Col- 
wood heard it opened, and a parley of voices Fan- 
ny's short and sullen, Diana's very low. Then the door 
closed, and Mrs. Colwood knew that the cousins were 
together. 

How the next twenty minutes passed, Mrs. Colwood 
[ 242 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

could never remember. At the end of them she heard 
steps slowly coming down the stairs, and a cry her 
own name not in Diana's voice. She ran out into 
the hall. 

At the top of the stairs, stood Fanny Merton, not 
daring to move further. Her eyes were starting out of 
her head, her face flushed and distorted. 

'You go to her! 7 She stooped, panting, over the 
bannisters, addressing Mrs. Colwood. 'She won't let 
me touch her.' 

Diana descended, groping. At the foot of the stairs 
she caught at Mrs. Colwood's hand, went swaying 
across the hall and into the drawing-room. There she 
closed the door, and looked into Mrs. Colwood's eyes. 
Muriel saw a face in which bloom and first youth were 
for ever dead though in its delicate features horror 
was still beautiful. She threw her arms round the girl, 
weeping. 

But Diana put her aside. She walked to a chair, 
and sat down. 'My mother ' she said, looking up. 

Her voice dropped. She moistened her dry lips, and 
began once more: 'My mother ' 

But the brain could maintain its flickering strength 
no longer. There was a low cry of ' Oliver ! ' that stabbed 
the heart; then, suddenly, her limbs were loosened, 
and she sank back, unconscious, out of her friend's 
grasp and ken. 



CHAPTER XI 

HER ladyship will be here directly, sir/ 

Lady Lucy's immaculate butler opened the door 
of her drawing-room in Eaton Square, ushered in Sir 
James Chide, noiselessly crossed the room to see to the 
fire, and then as noiselessly withdrew. 

'Impossible that any one should be as respectable 
as that man looks!' thought Sir James, impatiently. 

He walked forward to the fire, warmed hands and 
feet chilled by a nipping east wind, and then, with 
his back to the warmth, he examined the room. 

It was very characteristic of its mistress. At Tally n 
Henry Marsham had worked his will; here, in this 
house taken since his death, it was the will and taste 
of his widow which had prevailed. A grey paper with 
a small gold sprig upon it, sofas and chairs not too 
luxurious, a Brussels carpet, dark and unobtrusive, 
and chintz curtains ; on the walls, drawings by David 
Cox, Copley Fielding, and De Wint ; a few books with 
Mudie labels ; costly photographs of friends and rela- 
tions, especially of the relations' babies ; on one table, 
and under a glass case, a model in pith of Lincoln 
Cathedral, made by Lady Lucy's uncle, who had been 
a Canon of Lincoln; on another, a set of fine carved 
chessmen ; such was the furniture of the room. It ex- 
pressed and with emphasis the tastes and likings 
of that section of English society in which, firmly 
based as it is upon an ample supply of all material 
[ 244 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

goods, a seemly and intelligent interest in things ideal 
and spiritual is also to be found. Everything in the 
room was in its place, and had been in its place for 
years. Sir James got no help from the contemplation 
of it. 

The door opened, and Lady Lucy came quietly in. 
Sir James looked at her sharply as they shook hands. 
She had more colour than usual ; but the result was to 
make the face look older, and certain lines in it dis- 
agreeably prominent. Very likely she had been cry- 
ing. He hoped she had. 

'Oliver told you to expect me?' 

She assented. Then, still standing, she looked at 
him steadily. 

'This is a very terrible affair, Sir James/ 

'Yes. It must have been a great shock to you/ 

'Oh! that does not matter/ she said, impatiently. 
' I must not think of myself. I must think of Oliver. 
Will you sit down?' 

She motioned him, in her stately way, to a seat. He 
realised, as he faced her, that he beheld her in a new 
aspect. She was no longer the gracious and smiling 
hostess, as her familiar friends knew her, both at Tal- 
lyn and in London. Her manner threw a sudden light 
on certain features in her history : Marsham's contin- 
ued dependence on his mother and inadequate allow- 
ance, the autocratic ability shown in the management 
of the Tallyn household and estates, management in 
which Marsham was allowed practically no share at 
all, and other traits and facts long known to him. 
The gentle, scrupulous, composed woman of every 
day had vanished in something far more vigorously 
[ 245 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

drawn ; he felt himself confronted by a personality as 
strong as, and probably more stubborn than his own. 

Lady Lucy seated herself. She quietly arranged the 
folds of her black satin dress ; she drew forward a stool, 
and rested her feet upon it. Sir James watched her, 
uncertain how to begin. But she saved him the de- 
cision. 

'I have had a painful interview with my son/ she 
said, quietly. 'It could not be otherwise, and I can 
only hope that in a little while he will do me justice. 
Oliver will join us presently. And now first, Sir 
James, let me ask you you really believe that Miss 
Mallory has been till now in ignorance of her mother's 
history?' 

Sir James started. 

' Good Heavens, Lady Lucy ! Can you do you 
suppose anything else?' 

Lady Lucy paused before replying. 

' I cannot suppose it since both you and my son 
and Mr. Ferrier have so high an opinion of her. 
But it is a strange and mysterious thing that she should 
have remained in this complete ignorance all these 
years and a cruel thing, of course to everybody 
concerned.' 

Sir James nodded. 

' I agree. It was a cruel thing, though it was done, 
no doubt, from the tenderest motives. The suffering 
was bound to be not less but more, sooner or later.' 

' Miss Mallory is very greatly to be pitied. But it is, 
of course, clear that my son proposed to her, not know- 
ing what it was essential that he should know/ 

Sir James paused. 

[ 246 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'We are old friends, Lady Lucy you and I/ he 
said at last, with deliberation ; and as he spoke he bent 
forward and took her hand. * I am sure you will let 
me ask you a few questions/ 

Lady Lucy made no reply. Her hand without 
any movement of withdrawal or rebuff gently 
dropped from his. 

'You have been, I think, much attracted by Miss 
Mallory herself ?' 

'Very much attracted. Up to this morning I 
thought that she would make an excellent wife for 
Oliver. But I have been acting, of course, throughout, 
under a false impression/ 

'Is it your feeling that to marry her would injure 
Oliver's career?' 

'Certainly. But that is not what weighs with me 
most heavily/ 

' I did not for a moment believe that it would. How- 
ever, let us take the career first. This is how I look 
at it. If the marriage went forward, there would no 
doubt be some scandal and excitement at first, when 
the truth was known. But Oliver's personality and 
the girl's charm would soon live it down. In this 
strange world I am not at all sure it might not in the 
end help their future. Oliver would be thought to have 
done a generous and romantic thing, and his wife's 
goodness and beauty would be all the more appre- 
ciated for the background of tragedy/ 

Lady Lucy moved impatiently. 

' Sir James I am a plain person, with plain ideas. 
The case would present itself to me very differently ; 
and I believe that my view would be that of the 
[ 247 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ordinary man and woman. However, I repeat, that is 
not what I think of first by any means.' 

'You think of the criminal taint? the risk to 
Oliver and to Oliver's children?' 

She made a sign of assent. 

' Character and the protection of character is 
not that what we have to think of above all in 
this world of temptation? We can none of us afford to 
throw away the ordinary helps and safeguards. How 
can I possibly aid and abet Oliver's marriage with the 
daughter of a woman who first robbed her own young 
sister, in a peculiarly mean and cruel way, and then 
committed a deliberate and treacherous murder?' 

'Wait a moment!' exclaimed Sir James, holding up 
his hand. 'Those adjectives, believe me, are unjust/ 

'I know that you think so,' was the animated 
reply. 'But I remember the case; I have my own 
opinion/ 

'They are unjust/ repeated Sir James, with empha- 
sis. ' Then it is really the horror of the thing itself - 
not so much its possible effect on social position and 
opinion, which decides you?' 

'I ask myself I must ask myself,' said his com- 
panion, with equal emphasis, forcing the words, ' can 
I help Oliver to marry the daughter of a convicted 
murderess and adulteress?' 

'No!' said Sir James, holding up his hand again - 
'No!' 

Lady Lucy fell back in her chair. Her unwonted 
colour had disappeared, and the old hand lying in her 
lap a hand thin to emaciation shook a little. 

'Is not this too painful for us both, Sir James? - 
[ 248 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

can we continue it? I have my duty to think of; and 
yet I cannot, naturally, speak to you with entire 
frankness. Nor can I possibly regard your view as 
an impartial one. Forgive me. I should not have 
dreamt of referring to the matter in any other cir- 
cumstances/ 

'Certainly, I am not impartial/ said Sir James, look- 
ing up. 'You know that, of course, well enough/ 

He spoke in a strong full voice. 

Lady Lucy encountered a singular vivacity in the 
grey eyes, as though the whole power of the man's 
personality backed the words. 

' Believe me/ she said, with dignity, and not without 
kindness, 'it is not I who would revive such memories.' 

Sir James nodded quietly. 

'I am not impartial; but I am well informed. It 
was my view which affected the judge, and ultimately 
the Home Office. And since the trial in quite recent 
years I have received a strange confirmation of it 
which has never been made public. Did Oliver report 
this to you?' 

'He told me certain facts/ said Lady Lucy, unwill- 
ingly ; ' but I did not see that they made much differ- 
ence.' 

'Perhaps he did not give them the right emphasis/ 
said Sir James, calmly. ' Will you allow me to tell you 
the whole story? as it appears to me.' 

Lady Lucy looked distressed. 

'Is it worth while/ she said, earnestly, 'to give 
yourself so much pain? I cannot imagine that it could 
alter the view I take of my duty/ 

Sir James flushed, and sternly straightened himself. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

It was a well-known gesture, and ominous to many 
a prisoner in the dock. 

* Worth while!' he said. ' Worth while! when 
your son's future may depend on the judgement you 
form!' 

The sharpness of his tone called the red also to Lady 
Lucy's cheek. 

' Can anything that may be said now alter the irre- 
vocable?' she asked, in protest. 

'It cannot bring the dead to life; but if you are 
really more influenced in this matter by the heinous- 
ness of the crime itself, by the moral infection, so to 
speak that may spring from any kinship with Juliet 
Sparling or inheritance from her than by any dread 
of social disgrace or disadvantage if that be true ! 
then for Oliver's sake for that poor child's sake 
you ought to listen to me ! There, I can meet you 
there, I have much to say.' 

He looked at her earnestly. The slight, involuntary 
changes of expression in Lady Lucy, as he was speak- 
ing, made him say to himself : ' She is not indifferent 
to the social stigma she deceives herself!' But he 
made no sign of his perception ; he held her to her word. 

She paused, in evident hesitation, saying at last 
with some coldness : 

' If you wish it, Sir James, of course I am quite ready 
to listen. I desire to do nothing harshly.' 

'I will not keep you long.' 

Bending forward, his hands on his knees, his eyes 
upon the ground, he thought a moment. When he 
began to speak, it was in a quiet and perfectly colour- 
less tone. 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I knew Juliet Wentworth first when she was 
seventeen. I was on the Midland Circuit, and went 
down to the Milchester Assizes. Her father was High 
Sheriff, and asked me, with other barristers of the Cir- 
cuit, not only to his official dinner in the county town, 
but to luncheon at his house, a mile or two away. 
There I saw Miss Wentworth. She made a deep im- 
pression on me. After the Assizes were over, I stayed 
at her father's house and in the neighbourhood. Within 
a month I proposed to her. She refused me. I merely 
mention these circumstances for the sake of reporting 
my first impressions of her character. She was very 
young, and of an extraordinarily nervous and sensitive 
organisation. She used to remind me of Horace's 
image of the young fawn trembling and starting in the 
mountain paths at the rustling of a leaf or the move- 
ment of a lizard. I felt then that her life might very 
well be a tragedy, and I passionately desired to be able 
to protect and help her. However, she would have no- 
thing to do with me, and after a little while I lost sight 
of her. I did happen to hear that her father, having 
lost his first wife, had married again, that the girl was 
not happy at home, and had gone off on a long visit to 
some friends in the United States. Then for years I 
heard nothing. One evening, about ten years after my 
first meeting with her, I read in the evening papers the 
accounts of a "Supposed Murder at Brighton." Next 
morning Riley & Bonner retained me for the defence. 
Mr. Riley came to see me, with Mr. Sparling, the hus- 
band of the incriminated lady, and it was in the course 
of my consultation with them that I learnt who Mrs. 
Sparling was. I had to consider whether to take up 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the case or not ; I saw at once it would be a fight for her 
life, and I accepted it.' 

' What a terrible terrible position ! ' murmured 
Lady Lucy, who was shading her eyes with her hand. 

Sir James took no notice. His trained mind and 
sense were now wholly concerned with the presentation 
of his story. 

'The main facts, as I see them, were these. Juliet 
Wentworth had married four years before this date 
- a scholar and archaeologist whom she had met at 
Harvard during her American stay. Mr. Sparling was 
an Englishman, and a man of some means who was 
devoting himself to exploration in Asia Minor. The 
marriage was not really happy, though they were in 
love with each other. In both there was a tempera- 
ment touched with melancholy, and a curious incap- 
acity to accept the common facts of life. Both hated 
routine, and were always restless for new experience. 
Mrs. Sparling was brilliant in society. She was won- 
derfully handsome, in a small slight way ; her face was 
not unlike Miss Curran's picture of Shelley the same 
wildnessand splendour in the eyes, the same delicacy of 
feature, the same slight excess of breadth across the 
cheek-bones, and curly mass of hair. She was odd, 
wayward, eccentric yet always loveable and full of 
charm. He was a fine creature in many ways, but 
utterly unfit for practical life. His mind was always 
dreaming of buried treasure the treasure of the 
archaeologist : tombs, vases, gold ornaments, papyri ; he 
had the passion of the excavator and explorer. 

' They came back to England from America shortly 
after their marriage, and their child was born. The 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

little girl was three years old when Sparling went off to 
dig in a remote part of Asia Minor. His wife resented 
his going; but there is no doubt that she was still 
deeply in love with him. She herself took a little house 
at Brighton for the child's sake. Her small startling 
beauty soon made her remarked, and her acquaint- 
ances rapidly increased. She was too independent and 
unconventional to ask many questions about the 
people that amused her; she took them as they 
came ' 

' Sir James ! dear Sir James/ Lady Lucy raised a 
pair of imploring hands. 'What good can it do that 
you should tell me all this? It shows that this poor 
creature had a wild, undisciplined character. Could 
any one ever doubt it?' 

'Wild? undisciplined?' repeated Sir James. 'Well, 
if you think that you have disposed of the mystery of 
it by those adjectives ! For me looking back she 
was what life and temperament and heredity had 
made her. Up to this point it was an innocent wild- 
ness. She could lose herself in art or music ; she did 
often the most romantic and generous things; she 
adored her child ; and but for some strange kink in the 
tie that bound them, she would have adored her hus- 
band. Well !' he shrugged his shoulders mournfully 
- ' there it is : she was alone she was beautiful 
she had no doubt a sense of being neglected she was 
thirsting for some deeper draught of life than had yet 
been hers and by the hideous irony of fate she 
found it in gambling ! and in the friendship 
which ruined her ! ' 

Sir James paused. Rising from his chair, he began to 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

pace the large room. The immaculate butler came in, 
made up the fire, and placed the tea: domestic and 
comfortable rites, in grim contrast with the story that 
held the minds of Lady Lucy and her guest. She sat 
motionless meanwhile ; the butler withdrew ; and the 
tea remained untouched. 

' Sir Francis and Lady Wing the two fiends who 
got possession of her had been settled at Brighton 
for about a year. Their debts had obliged them to 
leave London, and they had not yet piled up a suf- 
ficient mountain of fresh ones to drive them out of 
Brighton. The man was the disreputable son of a rich 
and hard-working father who, in the usual way, had 
damned his son by removing all incentives to work, 
and turning him loose with a pile of money. He had 
married an adventuress a girl with a music-hall his- 
tory, some beauty, plenty of vicious ability, and no 
more conscience than a stone. They were the centre of 
a gambling and racing set ; but Lady Wing was also a 
very fine musician, and it was through this talent of 
hers that she and Juliet Sparling became acquainted. 
They met, first, at a charity concert! Mrs. Sparling 
had a fine voice, Lady Wing accompanied her. The 
Wings flattered her, and professed to adore her. Her 
absent whimsical character prevented her from under- 
standing what kind of people they were; and in her 
great ignorance of the world, combined with her love 
of the romantic and the extreme, she took the persons 
who haunted their house for Bohemians, when she 
should have known them the majority of them - 
for scoundrels. You will remember that baccarat was 
then the rage. The Wings played it incessantly, and 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

were very skilful in the decoying and plunder of young 
men. Juliet Sparling was soon seized by the excitement 
of the game, and her beauty, her evident good breeding 
and good faith, were of considerable use to the Wings' 
menage. Very soon she had lost all the money that her 
husband had left to her credit, and her bankers wrote 
to notify her that she was overdrawn. A sudden terror 
of Sparling's displeasure seized her ; she sold a bracelet, 
and tried to win back what she had lost. The result 
was only fresh loss, and in a panic she played on and 
on, till one disastrous night she got up from the bac- 
carat-table heavily in debt to one or two persons, in- 
cluding Sir Francis Wing. With the morning came a 
letter from her husband, remonstrating in a rather 
sharp tone on what her own letters and probably 
an account from some other source had told him of 
her life at Brighton ; insisting on the need for economy, 
owing to his own heavy expenses in the great excava- 
tion he was engaged upon; and expressing the per- 
emptory hope that she would make the money he had 
left her last for another two months - 

Sir James lingered in his walk. He stared out of 
window at the square garden for a few moments, then 
turned to look frowning at his companion. 

'Then came her temptation. Her father had died 
a year before, leaving her the trustee of her only sister, 
who was not yet of age. It had taken some little time 
to wind up his affairs; but on the day after she re- 
ceived her husband's letter of remonstrance, six thou- 
sand pounds out of her father's estate was paid into 
her banking-account. By this time she was in one of 
those states of excitement and unreasoning terror to 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

which she had been liable from her childhood. She 
took the trust money in order to pay the debts, and 
then gambled again in order to replace the trust 
money. Her motive throughout was the motive of 
the hunted creature. She was afraid of confessing to 
her husband, especially by letter. She believed he 
would cast her off and in her despair and remorse 
she clung to his affection, and to the hope of his com- 
ing home, as she had never yet done. 

' In less than a month in spite of ups and downs 
of fortune, probably skilfully contrived by Francis 
Wing and his accomplices for there can be no ques- 
tion that the play was fraudulent she had lost four 
thousand out of the six; and it is clear that more than 
once she thought of suicide as the only way out, and 
nothing but the remembrance of the child restrained 
her. By this time Francis Wing, who was a most 
handsome, well-bred, and plausible villain, was desper- 
ately in love with her if one can use the word love 
for such a passion. He began to lend her money in 
small sums. She was induced to look upon him as 
her only friend, and forced by the mere terror of the 
situation in which she found herself to propitiate and 
play him as best she might. One day, in an unguarded 
moment of remorse, she let him guess what had hap- 
pened about the trust money. Thenceforward she 
was wholly in his power. He pressed his attentions 
upon her; and she, alternately civil and repellent, as 
her mood went, was regarded by some of the guests 
in the house as not unlikely to respond to them in the 
end. Meanwhile he had told his wife the secret of the 
trust money for his own purposes. Lady Wing, who 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

was an extremely jealous woman, believed at this 
time that he was merely pretending a passion for Mrs. 
Sparling in order the more securely to plunder what 
still remained of the six thousand pounds. She there- 
fore aided and abetted him ; and her plan, no doubt, 
was to wait till they and their accomplices had ab- 
sorbed the last of Mrs. Sparling's money, and then to 
make a midnight flitting, leaving their victim to her 
fate. 

'The denouement, however, came with frightful rapid- 
ity. The Wings had taken an old house at the back 
of the downs for the summer, no doubt to escape from 
some of the notoriety they had gained in Brighton. 
There to her final ruin Juliet Sparling was in- 
duced to join them, and gambling began again ; she 
still desperately hoping to replace the trust money, 
and salving her conscience, as to her sister, by draw- 
ing for the time on the sums lent her by Francis Wing. 
- Here at last Lady Wing's suspicion was aroused, 
and Mrs. Sparling found herself between the hatred of 
the wife and the dishonourable passion of the husband. 
Yet to leave them would be the signal for exposure. 
For some time the presence of other guests protected 
her. Then the guests left, and one August night after 
dinner, Francis Wing, who had drunk a great deal of 
champagne, made frantic love to her. She escaped 
from him with difficulty, in a passion of loathing and 
terror, and rushed indoors, where she found Lady 
Wing in the gallery of the old house, on the first floor, 
walking up and down in a jealous fury. Juliet Spar- 
ling burst in upon her with the reproaches of a wo- 
man driven to bay, threatening to go at once to her 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

husband and make a clean breast of the whole history 
of their miserable acquaintance. She was practically 
beside herself already, as the sequel showed, mor- 
tally ill, worn out by remorse and sleeplessness, and 
quivering under the insult which had been offered her. 
Lady Wing recovered her own self-possession under 
the stimulus of Juliet's breakdown. She taunted her 
in the cruellest way, accused her of being the tempt- 
ress in the case of Sir Francis, and of simulating a 
hypocritical indignation in order to save herself with 
her husband, and finally charged her with the rob- 
bery of her sister's money, declaring that as soon as 
daylight came she would take steps to set the criminal 
law in motion, and so protect both herself and her 
husband from any charge such a woman might bring 
against them. The threat, of course, was mere bluff. 
But Mrs. Sparling, in her frenzy and her ignorance, 
took it for truth. Finally, the fierce creature came up 
to her, snatching at a brooch in the bosom of her dress, 
and crying out in the vilest language that it was Sir 
Francis's gift. Juliet, pushed up against the panelling 
of the gallery, caught at a dagger belonging to a trophy 
of Eastern arms displayed on the wall, close to her 
hand, and struck wildly at her tormentor. The dagger 
pierced Lady Wing's left breast she was in evening 
dress and decolletee; it penetrated to the heart, and 
she fell dead at Juliet's feet as her husband entered 
the gallery. Juliet dropped the dagger; and as Sir 
Francis rushed to his wife, she fled shrieking up the 
stairs her white dress covered with blood to her 
own room, falling unconscious before she reached it. 
She was carried to her room by the servants the 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

police were sent for and the rest or most of the 
rest you know/ 

Sir James ceased speaking. A heavy silence pos- 
sessed the room. 

Sir James walked quickly up to his companion. 

' Now I ask you to notice two points in the story as 
I have told it. My cross-examination of Wing served its 
purpose as an exposure of the man except in one 
direction. He swore that Mrs. Sparling had made dis- 
honourable advances to him, and had finally become 
his mistress, in order to buy his silence on the trust 
money and the continuance of his financial help. On 
the other hand, the case for the defence was that - 
as I have stated it was in the maddened state of 
feeling, provoked by his attack upon her honour, and 
made intolerable by the wife's taunts and threats, 
that Juliet Sparling struck the fatal blow. At the trial 
the judge believed me; the jury and a large part 
of the public you, I have no doubt amongst them 
believed Wing. The jury were probably influenced by 
some of the evidence given by the fellow-guests in the 
house, which seemed to me simply to amount to this 
- that a woman in the strait in which Juliet Sparling 
was will endeavour, out of mortal fear, to keep the 
ruffian who has her in his power in a good humour. 

'However, I have now confirmatory evidence for 
my theory of the matter evidence which has never 
been produced and which I tell you now simply 
because the happiness of her child and of your son 
is at stake. 7 

Lady Lucy moved a little. The colour returned to 
her cheeks. Sir James, however, gave her no time 
F 259 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to interrupt. He stood before her, smiting one hand 
against another, to emphasise his words, as he con- 
tinued : 

'Francis Wing lived for some eighteen years after 
Mrs. Sparling's death. Then, just as the police were at 
last on his track as the avengers of a long series of 
frauds, he died at Antwerp in extreme poverty and 
degradation. The day before he died he dictated a let- 
ter to me, which reached me, through a priest, twenty- 
four hours after his death. For his son's sake, he in- 
vited me to regard it as confidential. If Mrs. Sparling 
had been alive I should, of course, have taken no not- 
ice of the request. But she had been dead for eight- 
een years ; I had lost sight completely of Sparling and 
the child, and, curiously enough, I knew something of 
Wing's son. He was about ten years old at the death 
of his mother, and was then rescued from his father 
by the Wing kindred and decently brought up. At 
the time the letter reached me he was a promising 
young man of eight-and-twenty, he had just been 
called to the Bar, and he was in the chambers of a 
friend of mine. By publishing Wing's confession I 
could do no good to the dead, and I might harm the 
living. So I held my tongue. Whether, now, I should 
still hold it is, no doubt, a question. 

' However, to go back to the statement. Wing de- 
clared to me in this letter that Juliet Sparling's rela- 
tion to him had been absolutely innocent, that he had 
persecuted her with his suit, and she had never given 
him a friendly word, except out of fear. On the fatal 
evening he had driven her out of her mind, he said, by 
his behaviour in the garden ; she was not answerable 
[ 260 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

for her actions ; and his evidence at the trial was mei ^ 
dictated either by the desire to make his own case look 
less black or by the fiendish wish to punish Juliet 
Sparling for her loathing of him. 

' But he confessed something else ! more import- 
ant still. I must go back a little. You will remember 
my version of the dagger incident? I represented Mrs. 
Sparling as finding the dagger on the wall as she was 
pushed or dragged up against the panelling by her 
antagonist as it were, under her hand. Wing swore 
at the trial that the dagger was not there, and had 
never been there. The house belonged to an old trav- 
eller and sportsman who had brought home arms of 
different sorts from all parts of the world. The house 
was full of them. There were two collections of them 
on the wall of the dining-room, one in the hall, and 
one or two in the gallery. Wing declared that the dag- 
ger used was taken by Juliet Sparling from the hall 
trophy, and must have been carried upstairs with a 
deliberate purpose of murder. According to him, their 
quarrel in the garden had been a quarrel about money 
matters, and Mrs. Sparling had left him, in great ex- 
citement, convinced that the chief obstacle in the way 
of her complete control of Wing and his money lay in 
the wife. There again as to the weapon I had 
no means of refuting him. As far as the appearance 
- after the murder of the racks holding the arms 
was concerned, the weapon might have been taken 
from either place. And again on the whole the 
jury believed Wing. The robbery of the sister's money 
the incredible rapidity of Juliet Sparling's deteri- 
oration had set them against her. Her wild beauty, 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her proud and dumb misery in the dock, were of a kind 
rather to alienate the plain man than to move him. 
They believed her capable of anything and it was 
natural enough. 

' But Wing confessed to me that he knew perfectly 
well that the dagger belonged to the stand in the gal- 
lery. He had often examined the arms there, and was 
quite certain of the fact. He swore this to the priest. 
Here, again, you can only explain his evidence by a 
desire for revenge/ 

Sir James paused. As he moved a little away from 
his companion his expression altered. It was as though 
he put from him the external incidents and considera- 
tions with which he had been dealing, and the vivacity 
of manner which fitted them. Feelings and forces of 
another kind emerged, clothing themselves in the 
beauty of an incomparable voice, and in an aspect of 
humane and melancholy dignity. 

He turned to Lady Lucy. 

'Now then/ he said, gently, 'I am in a position to 
put the matter to you finally, as before God it 
appears to me. Juliet Sparling as I said to Oliver 
last night was not a bad woman ! She sinned deeply, 
but she was never false to her husband in thought or 
deed; none of her wrong-doing was deliberate; she 
was tortured by remorse ; and her murderous act was 
the impulse of a moment, and partly in self-defence. 
It was wholly unpremeditated ; and it killed her no less 
than her victim. When, next day, she was removed 
by the police, she was already a dying woman, I have 
in my possession a letter written to me by her - 
after her release, in view of her impending death, by 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the order of the Home Office a few days before she 
died. It is humble it is heart-rending it breathes 
the sincerity of one who had turned all her thoughts 
from earth; but it thanked me for having read her 
aright ; and if ever I could have felt a doubt of my own 
interpretation of the case but, thank God, I never 
did ! that letter would have shamed it out of me ! 
Poor soul, poor soul ! She sinned, and she suffered - 
agonies, beyond any penalty of man's inflicting. Will 
you prolong her punishment in her child?' 

Lady Lucy had covered her face with her hand. He 
saw her breath flutter in her breast. And sitting down 
beside her, blanched by the effort he had made, and by 
the emotion he had at last permitted himself, yet fix- 
ing his eyes steadily on the woman before him, he 
waited for her reply. 



CHAPTER XII 

LADY LUCY did not reply at once. She slowly drew 
forward the neglected tea-table, made tea, and of- 
fered it to Sir James. He took it impatiently, the Irish 
blood in him running hot and fast ; and when she had 
finished her cup, and still the silence lasted, except for 
the trivial question-and-answer of the tea-making, he 
broke in upon it with a somewhat peremptory 

'Well?' 

Lady Lucy clasped her hands on her lap. The hand 
which had been so far bare was now gloved like the 
other, and something in the spectacle of the long 
fingers, calmly interlocked and clad in spotless white 
kid, increased the secret exasperation in her com- 
panion. 

' Believe me, dear Sir James/ she said at last, lift- 
ing her clear brown eyes, ' I am very grateful to you. 
It must have been a great effort for you to tell me this 
awful story, and I thank you for the confidence you 
have reposed in me/ 

Sir James pushed his chair back. 

'I did it, of course, for a special reason/ he said, 
sharply. ' I hope I have given you cause to change 
your mind/ 

She shook her head slowly. 

' What have you proved to me? That Mrs. Sparling's 
crime was not so hideous as some of us supposed? - 
that she did not fall to the lowest depths of all ? and 
[ 264 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

that she endured great provocation? But could any- 
thing really be more vile than the history of those 
weeks of excitement and fraud? of base yielding 
to temptation? of cruelty to her husband and child? 

even as you have told it? Her conduct led directly 
to adultery and violence. If, by God's mercy, she was 
saved from the worst crimes imputed to her, does it 
make much difference to the moral judgement we must 
form?' 

He looked at her in amazement. 

'No difference ! between murder and a kind of 
accident? between adultery and fidelity?' 

Lady Lucy hesitated then resumed, with stub- 
bornness : ' You put it like an advocate. But look 
at the indelible facts look at the future. If my son 
married the daughter of such a woman and had child- 
ren, what must happen? First of all, could he, could 
any one, be free from the dread of inherited lawless- 
ness and passion? A woman does not gamble, steal, 
and take life in a moment of violence without some 
exceptional flaw in temperament and will, and we 
see again and again how such flaws reappear in the 
descendants of weak and wicked people. Then again 

Oliver must renounce and throw away all that is 
implied in family memories and traditions. His wife 
could never speak to her children and his of her own 
mother and bringing up. They would be kept in 
ignorance, as she herself was kept, till the time came 
that they must know. Say what you will, Juliet Spar- 
ling was condemned to death for murder in a notori- 
ous case after a trial which also branded her as 
a thief. Think of a boy at Eton or Oxford a girl in 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her first youth hearing for the first time perhaps 
in some casual way the story of the woman whose 
blood ran in theirs ! What a cloud on a family ! 
what a danger and drawback for young lives!' 

Her delicate features, under the crown of white hair, 
were once more flooded with colour, and the passion in 
her eyes held them steady under Sir James's pene- 
trating look. Through his inner mind there ran the 
cry : ' Pharisee ! Hypocrite !' 

But he fought on. 

'Lady Lucy! your son loves this girl remem- 
ber that ! And in herself you admit that she is blame- 
less all that you could desire for his wife remem- 
ber that also/ 

' I remember both. But I was brought up by people 
who never admitted that any feeling was beyond our 
control or ought to be indulged against right and 
reason/ 

'Supposing Oliver entirely declines to take your 
view? supposing he marries Miss Mallory?' 

'He will not break my heart/ she said, drawing 
a quicker breath. ' He will get over it/ 

'But if he persists?' 

' He must take the consequences. I cannot aid and 
abet him/ 

'And the girl herself? She has accepted him. She 
is young, innocent, full of tender and sensitive feeling. 
Is it possible that you should not weigh her claim 
against your fears and scruples?' 

' I feel for her most sincerely/ 

Sir James suddenly threw out a restless foot, which 
caught Lady Lucy's fox terrier, who was snoozing 
[ 266 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

under the tea-table. He hastily apologised, and the 
speaker resumed : 

' But, in my opinion, she would do a far nobler thing 
if she regarded herself as bound to some extent to bear 
her mother's burden to pay her mother's debt to 
society. It may sound harsh but is it? Is a dedi- 
cated life necessarily an unhappy life? Would not 
everybody respect and revere her? She would sacrifice 
herself, as the Sister of Mercy does, or the missionary, 
and she would find her reward. But to enter a family 
with an unstained record, bearing with her such a 
name and such associations, would be, in my opinion, 
a wrong and selfish act!' 

Lady Lucy drew herself to her full height. In the 
dusk of the declining afternoon the black satin and 
white ruffles of her dress, her white head in its lace 
cap, her thin neck and shoulders, her tall slenderness, 
and the rigidity of her attitude, made a formidable 
study in personality. Sir James's whole soul rose in 
one scornful and indignant protest. But he felt him- 
self beaten. The only hope lay in Oliver himself. 

He rose slowly from his chair. 

'It is useless, I see, to try and argue the matter 
further. But I warn you : I do not believe that Oliver 
will obey you, and forgive me Lady Lucy ! but 
frankly I hope he will not. Nor will he suffer 
too severely, even if you, his mother, desert him. Miss 
Mallory has some fortune ' 

'Oliver will not live upon his wife!' 

' He may accept her aid till he has found some way 
of earning money. What amazes me if you will 
allow me the liberty of an old friend is that you 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

should think a woman justified in coercing a son of 
mature age in such a matter!' 

His tone, his manner pierced Lady Lucy's pride. 
She threw back her head nervously, but her tone was 
calm: 

'A woman to whom property has been entrusted 
must do her best to see that the will and desires of 
those who placed it in her hands are carried out!' 

' Well ! well ! ' Sir James looked for his stick ' I 
am sorry for Oliver but' he straightened himself 
'it will make a bigger man of him.' 

Lady Lucy made no reply, but her expression was 
eloquent of a patience which her old friend might abuse 
if he would. 

'Does Ferrier know? Have you consulted him?' 
asked Sir James, turning abruptly. 

' He will be here, I think, this afternoon as usual,' 
said Lady Lucy, evasively. 'And, of course, he must 
know what concerns us so deeply.' 

As she spoke the hall-door bell was heard. 

' That is probably he.' She looked at her companion 
uncertainly. ' Don't go, Sir James unless you are 
really in a hurry.' 

The invitation was not urgent ; but Sir James stayed 
all the same. Ferrier was a man so interesting to his 
friends that no judgement of his could be indifferent to 
them. Moreover, there was a certain angry curiosity 
as to how far Lady Lucy's influence would affect him. 
Chide took inward note of the fact that his speculation 
took this form, and not another. Oh ! the hypocritical 
obstinacy of decent women! the lack in them of 
heart, of generosity, of imagination! 
[ 268 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The door opened, and Ferrier entered, with Mar- 
sham and the butler behind him. Mr. Ferrier, in his 
London frock-coat, appeared rounder and heavier than 
ever but for the contradictory vigour and lightness of 
his step, the shrewd cheerfulness of the eyes. It had 
been a hard week in Parliament, however, and his 
features and complexion showed signs of overwork 
and short sleep. For a few minutes, while tea was 
renewed, and the curtains closed, he maintained a 
pleasant chat with Lady Lucy, while the other two 
looked at each other in silence. 

But when the servant had gone, Ferrier put down 
his cup unfinished. 

'I am very sorry for you both/ he said, gravely, 
looking from Lady Lucy to her son. ' I need not say 
your letter this morning took me wholly by surprise. 
I have since been doing my best to think of a way 
out/ 

There was a short pause broken by Marsham, who 
was sitting a little apart from the others, restlessly 
fingering a paper-knife. 

' If you could persuade my mother to take a kind 
and reasonable view ' he said, abruptly ' that 
is really the only way out/ 

Lady Lucy stiffened under the attack. Drawn on by 
Ferrier's interrogative glance, she quietly repeated, 
with more detail, and even greater austerity, the argu- 
ments and considerations she had made use of in her 
wrestle with Sir James. 

Chide clearly perceived that her opposition was 
hardening with every successive explanation of it. 
What had been at first, no doubt, an instinctive recoil 
[ 269 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

was now being converted into a plausible and reasoned 
case, and the oftener she repeated it the stronger 
would she become on her own side and the more in 
love with her own contentions. 

Ferrier listened attentively; took note of what she 
reported as to Sir James's fresh evidence; and when 
she ceased called upon Chide to explain. Chide's sec- 
ond defence of Juliet Sparling as given to a fellow- 
lawyer was a remarkable piece of technical statement, 
admirably arranged, and unmarked by any trace of 
the personal feeling he had not been able to hide from 
Lady Lucy. 

'Most interesting most interesting/ murmured 
Ferrier, as the story came to an end. 'A tragic and 
memorable case/ 

He pondered a little, his eyes on the carpet, while 
the others waited. Then he turned to Lady Lucy and 
,took her hand. 

' Dear lady !' he said, gently, 'I think you ought 
to give way!' 

Lady Lucy's face quivered a little. She decidedly 
withdrew her hand. 

' I am sorry you are both against me/ she said, look- 
ing from one to the other. ' I am sorry you help Oliver 
to think unkindly of me. But if I must stand alone, 
I must. I cannot give way/ 

Ferrier raised his eyebrows with a little perplexed 
look. Thrusting his hands into his pockets, he went to 
stand by the fire, staring down into it a minute or 
two, as though the flames might bring counsel. 

'Miss Mallory is still ignorant, Oliver is that so?' 
he said, at last. 

[ 270 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Entirely. But it is not possible she should con- 
tinue to be so. She has begun to make inquiries, 
and I agree with Sir James it is right she should be 
told ' 

' I propose to go down to Beechcote to-morrow/ put 
in Sir James. 

' Have you any idea what view Miss Mallory would 
be likely to take of the matter as affecting her 
engagement?' 

' She could have no view that was not unselfish and 
noble like herself/ said Marsham, hotly. 'What 
has that to do with it?' 

'She might release you/ was Ferrier's slow reply. 

Marsham flushed. 

'And you think I should be such a hound as to let 
her!' 

Sir James only just prevented himself from throw- 
ing a triumphant look at his hostess. 

'You will, of course, inform her of your mother's 
opposition?' said Ferrier. 

'It will be impossible to keep it from her/ 

'Poor child!' murmured Ferrier 'poor child!' 

Then he looked at Lady Lucy. 

'May I take Oliver into the inner room a little 
while?' he asked, pointing to a further drawing-room. 

' By all means. I shall be here when you return.' 

Sir James had a few hurried words in private with 
Marsham, and then took his leave. As he and Lady 
Lucy shook hands, he gave her a penetrating look. 

'Try and think of the girl !' he said, in a low voice; 
' the girl in her first youth.' 

' I think of my son/ was the unmoved reply. ' Good- 
[ 271 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

bye, Sir James. I feel that we are adversaries, and 
I wish it were not so/ 

Sir James walked away, possessed by a savage desire 
to do some damage to the cathedral in pith, as he passed 
it on his way to the door; or to shake his fist in the 
faces of Wilberf orce and Lord Shaftesbury, whose por- 
traits adorned the staircase. The type of Catholic wo- 
man which he most admired rose in his mind ; com- 
passionate, tender, infinitely soft and loving like 
the saints; save where 'the faith' was concerned - 
like the saints, again. This Protestant rigidity and self- 
sufficiency were the deuce ! 

But he would go down to Beechcote, and he and 
Oliver between them would see that child through. 

Meanwhile, Ferrier and Marsham were in anxious 
conclave. Ferrier counselled delay. 'Let the thing 
sleep a little. Don't announce the engagement. You 
and Miss Mallory will, of course, understand each 
other. You will correspond. But don't hurry it. So 
much consideration, at least, is due to your mother's 
strong feeling/ 

Marsham assented, but despondently. 

' You know my mother ; time will make no difference/ 

'I'm not so sure I'm not so sure,' said Ferrier, 
cheerfully. ' Did your mother say anything about 
finances?' 

Marsham gave a gloomy smile. 

' I shall be a pauper, of^course that was made quite 
plain to me/ 

'No, no! that must be prevented!' said Ferrier, 
with energy. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marsham was not quick to -reply. His manner as he 
stood with his back to the fire, his distinguished head 
well thrown back on his straight, lean shoulders, was 
the manner of a proud man suffering humiliation. He 
was thirty-five, and rapidly becoming a politician of 
importance. Yet here he was poor and impotent, 
in the midst of great wealth, wholly dependent, by his 
father's monstrous will, on his mother's caprice lia- 
ble to be thwarted and commanded, as though he were 
a boy of fifteen. Up till now Lady Lucy's yoke had 
been tolerable ; to-day it galled beyond endurance. 

Moreover, there was something peculiarly irritating 
at the moment in Ferrier's intervention. There had 
been increased Parliamentary friction of late between 
the two men, in spite of the intimacy of their per- 
sonal relations. To be forced to owe fortune, career, 
and the permission to marry as he pleased to Ferrier's 
influence with his mother was, at this juncture, a bitter 
pill for Oliver Marsham. 

Ferrier understood him perfectly, and he had never 
displayed more kindness or more tact than in the con- 
versation which passed between them. Marsham fin- 
ally agreed that Diana must be frankly informed of 
his mother's state of mind, and that a waiting policy 
offered the only hope. On this they were retiring to 
the front drawing-room when Lady Lucy opened the 
communicating door. 

'A letter for you, Oliver/ 

He took it, and turned it over. The handwriting 
was unknown to him. 

'Who brought this?' he asked of the butler stand- 
ing behind his mother. 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'A servant, sir, from Beechcote Manor. He was told 
to wait for an answer/ 

' I will send one. Come when I ring/ 

The butler departed, and Marsham went hurriedly 
into the inner room, closing the door behind him. 
Ferrier and Lady Lucy were left, looking at each other 
in anxiety. 

But before they could put it into words, Marsham 
reappeared, in evident agitation. He hurried to the 
bell and rang it. 

Lady Lucy pointedly made no inquiry. 

But Ferrier spoke. 

'No bad news, I hope?' 

Marsham turned. 

'She has been told/ he said, hoarsely. 'Mrs. Col- 
wood, her companion, speaks of "shock." I must go 
down at once/ 

Lady Lucy said nothing. She, too, had grown 
white. 

The butler appeared. Marsham asked for the Sun- 
day trains, ordered some packing, went downstairs to 
speak to the Beechcote messenger, and returned. 

Ferrier retired into the furthest window, and Mar- 
sham approached his mother. 

' Good-bye, mother. I will write to you from Beech- 
cote, where I shall stay at the little inn in the vill- 
age. Have you no kind word that I may carry with 
me?' 

Lady Lucy looked at him steadily. 

'I shall write myself to Miss Mallory, Oliver/ 

His pallor gave place to a flush of indignation. 

'Is it necessary to do anything so cruel, mother?' 
[ 274 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' I shall not write cruelly/ 

He shrugged his shoulders impatiently. 

' Considering what you have made up your mind to 
do, I should have thought least said, soonest mended. 
However, if you must, you must. I can only prepare 
Diana for your letter and soften it when it comes/ 

' In your new love, Oliver, have you quite forgotten 
the old?' 

Lady Lucy's voice shook for the first time. 

' I shall be only too glad to remember it, when you 
give me the opportunity/ he said, sombrely. 

' I have not been a bad mother to you, Oliver. I 
have claims upon you/ 

He did not reply, and his silence wounded Lady Lucy 
to the quick. Was it her fault if her husband, out of 
an eccentric distrust of the character of his son, and 
moved by a kind of old-fashioned and Spartan belief 
that a man must endure hardness before he is fit for 
luxury, had made her and not Oliver the arbiter and 
legatee of his wealth? But Oliver had never wanted 
for anything. He had only to ask. What right had she 
to thwart her husband's decision? 

'Good-bye, mother,' said Marsham again. 'If you 
are writing to Isabel you will, I suppose, discuss the 
matter with her. She is not unlikely to side with you 
not for your reasons, however but because of 
some silly nonsense about politics. If she does, I beg 
she will not write to me. It could only embitter mat- 
ters/ 

'I will give her your message. Good-bye, Oliver/ 

He left the room, with a gesture of farewell to Fer- 
rier. 

[ 275 ] . 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Ferrier came back towards the fire. As he did so he 
was struck painfully struck by a change in Lady 
Lucy. She was not pale, and her eyes were singularly 
bright. Yet age was, for the first time, written in a 
face from which Time had so far taken but his lightest 
toll. It moved him strangely ; though, as to the matter 
in hand, his sympathies were all with Oliver. But 
through thirty years Lady Lucy had been the only 
woman for him. Since first, as a youth of twenty, he 
had seen her in her father's house, he had never wav- 
ered. She was his senior by five years, and their first 
acquaintance had been one of boy-adoration on his 
side and a charming elder-sisterliness on hers. Then he 
had declared himself, and she had refused him in order 
to marry Henry Marsham and Henry Marsham's fort- 
une. It seemed to him then that he would soon forget 
her soon find a warmer and more generous heart. 
But that was mere ignorance of himself. After a while 
he became the intimate friend of her husband, herself, 
and her child. Something, indeed, had happened to his 
affection for her. He felt himself in no danger beside 
her, so far as passion was concerned ; and he knew very 
well that she would have banished him for ever at a 
moment's notice rather than give her husband an 
hour's uneasiness. But to be near her, to be in her 
world, consulted, trusted, and flattered by her, to slip 
daily into his accustomed chair, to feel year by year 
the strands of friendship and of intimacy woven more 
closely between him and her between him and hers 
- these things gradually filled all the space in his life 
left by politics or by thought. They deprived him of 
any other home, and this home became a necessity. 
[ 276 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Then Henry Marsham died. Once more Ferrier 
asked Lady Lucy to marry him, and again she refused. 
He acquiesced ; their old friendship was resumed ; but, 
once more, with a difference. In a sense he had no 
longer any illusions about her. He saw that while she 
believed herself to be acting under the influence of 
religion and other high matters, she was, in truth, a 
narrow and rather cold-hearted woman, with a strong 
element of worldliness, disguised in much placid mor- 
alising. At the bottom of his soul he resented her treat- 
ment of him, and despised himself for submitting to it. 
But the old habit had become a tyranny not to be 
broken. Where else could he go for talk, for intimacy, 
for rest? And for all his disillusion there were still 
at her command occasional felicities of manner and 
strains of feeling ethereally delicate and spiritual, 
like a stanza from the Christian Year that moved 
him and pleased his taste as nothing else had power to 
move and please; steeped, as they were, in a far-off 
magic of youth and memory. 

So he stayed by her, and she knew very well that he 
would stay by her to the end. 

He sat down beside her and took her hand. 

'You are tired/ 

' It has been a miserable day/ 

' Shall I read to you ? It would be wise, I think, to 
put it out of your mind for a while, and come back 
to it fresh/ 

' It will be difficult to attend/ Her smile was faint 
and sad. ' But I will do my best/ 

He took up a volume of Dean Church's sermons, and 
began to read. Presently, as always, his subtler self 
[ 277 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

became conscious of the irony of the situation. He 
was endeavouring to soothe her trouble by applying 
to it some of the noblest religious thought of our day, 
expressed in the noblest language. Such an attempt 
implied some moral correspondence between the mess- 
age and the listener. Yet all the time he was conscious 
himself of cowardice and hypocrisy. What part of the 
Christian message really applied to Lady Lucy this 
afternoon but the searching words : ' He that loveth 
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love 
God whom he hath not seen?' 

Yet he read on. The delicate ascetic face of his 
companion grew calmer; he himself felt a certain re- 
freshment and rest. There was no one else in the world 
with whom he could sit like this, to whom he could 
speak or read of the inner life. Lucy Marsham had 
made him what he was, a childless bachelor, with cer- 
tain memories in his past life of which he was ashamed 
representing the revenge of a strong man's tempera- 
ment and physical nature. But in the old age she had 
all but reached, and he was approaching, she was still 
the one dear and indispensable friend. If she must 
needs be harsh and tyrannical well, he must try to 
mitigate the effects, for herself, and others. But his 
utmost effort must restrain itself within certain limits. 
He was not at all sure that if offended in some mortal 
point, she might not do without him. But so long as 
they both lived, he could not do without her. 

Early the following morning Alicia Drake appeared 
in Eaton Square, and by two o'clock Mrs. Fothering- 
ham was also there. She had rushed up from Leeds by 
[ 278 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the first possible train, summoned by Alicia's letter. 
Lady Lucy and her daughter held conference, and Miss 
Drake was admitted to their counsels. 

'Of course, mamma/ said Isabel Fotheringham, 'I 
don't at all agree with you in the matter. Nobody is 
responsible for their mothers and fathers. We make 
ourselves. But I shall not be sorry if the discovery 
frees Oliver from a marriage which would have been a 
rope round his neck. She is a foolish, arrogant, senti- 
mental girl, brought up on the most wrong-headed 
principles, and she could never have made a decent 
wife for him. She will, I hope, have the sense to see it 
and he will be well out of it.' 

' Oliver, at present, is very determined/ said Lady 
Lucy, in a tone of depression. 

' Oh, well, of course, having just proposed to her, he 
must, of course, behave like a gentleman and not 
like a cad. But she can't possibly hold him to it. You 
will write to her, mamma and so shall I.' 

'We shall make him, I fear, very angry/ 

'Oliver? Well, there are moments in every family 
when it is no use shirking. We have to think of 
Oliver's career, and what he may do for his party, and 
for reform. You think he proposed to her in that walk 
on the hill?' said Mrs. Fotheringham, turning to her 
Cousin Alicia. 

Alicia woke up from a brown study of her own. She 
was dressed with her usual perfection in a grey cloth, 
just suggesting the change of season. Her felt hat with 
its plume of feathers lay on her lap, and her hair, 
slightly loosened by the journey, captured the eye by 
its abundance and beauty. The violets on her breast 
[ 279 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

perfumed the room, and the rings upon her hands 
flashed just as much as is permitted to an unmarried 
girl, and no more. 

As Mrs. Fotheringham looked at her, she said to 
herself: 'Another Redfern! Really Alicia is too ex- 
travagant!' 

On that head no one could have reproached herself. 
A cheap coat and skirt, much worn, a hat of no partic- 
ular colour or shape, frayed gloves and disreputable 
boots, proclaimed both the parsimony of her father's 
will and the independence of her opinions. 

'Oh, of course he proposed on the hill/ replied 
Alicia, thoughtfully. 'And you say, Aunt Lucy, that 
he guessed and she knew nothing? Yes! I was 
certain he guessed/ 

'But she knows now/ said Lady Lucy; 'and, of 
course, we must all be very sorry for her/ 

'Oh, of course!' said Isabel. 'But she will soon get 
over it. You won't find it will do her any harm. Peo- 
ple will make her a heroine.' 

'I should advise her not to go about with that 
cousin/ said Alicia, softly. 

'The girl who told you?' 

'She was an outsider! She told me, evidently, to 
spite her cousin, who seemed not to have paid her 
enough attention, and then wanted me to swear 
secrecy.' 

'Well, if her mother was a sister of Juliet Sparling, 
you can't expect much, can you? What a mercy it has 
all come out so soon ! The mess would have been in- 
finitely greater if the engagement had gone on a few 
weeks.' 

[ 280 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'My dear/ said her mother, gravely, 'we must not 
reckon upon Oliver's yielding to our persuasions.' 

Isabel smiled and shrugged her shoulders. Oliver 
condemn himself to the simple life ! to the forfeiture 
of half a million of money for the sake of the beaux 
yeux of Diana Mallory ! Oliver, who had never faced 
any hardship or gone without any luxury in his life ! 

Alicia said nothing; but the alertness of her brilliant 
eyes showed the activity of the brain behind them. 
While Mrs. Fotheringham went off to committees, 
Miss Drake spent the rest of the day in ministering to 
Lady Lucy, who found her company, her gossip about 
Beechcote, her sympathetic yet restrained attitude 
towards the whole matter, quite invaluable. But, in 
spite of these aids, the hours of waiting and suspense 
passed heavily, and Alicia said to herself that Cousin 
Lucy was beginning to look frail. 



CHAPTER XIII 

OWING to the scantiness of Sunday trains, Marsham 
did not arrive at Beechcote village till between nine 
and ten at night. He left his bag at the village inn, 
tried to ignore the scarcely concealed astonishment 
with which the well-known master or reputed mas- 
ter of Tallyn was received within its extremely 
modest walls, and walked up to the manor-house. 
There he had a short conversation with Mrs. Colwood, 
who did not propose to tell Diana of his arrival till the 
morning. 

'She does not know that I wrote to you/ said the 
little lady, in her pale distress. ' She wrote to you her- 
self this evening. I hope I have not done wrong/ 

Marsham reassured her, and they had a melancholy 
consultation. Diana, it seemed, had insisted on getting 
up that day as usual. She had tottered across to her 
sitting-room and had spent the day there alone, writ- 
ing a few letters, or sitting motionless in her chair for 
hours together. She had scarcely eaten, and Mrs. Col- 
wood was sure she had not slept at all since the shock. 
It was to be hoped that out of sheer fatigue she might 
sleep, on this, the second night. But it was essential 
there should be no fresh excitement, such as the know- 
ledge of Marsham's arrival would certainly arouse. 

Mrs. Colwood could hardly bring herself to speak of 
Fanny Merton. She was, of course, still in the house - 
sulking and inclined to blame everybody, her dead 
[ 282 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

uncle in particular, rather than herself. But, merci- 
fully, she was departing early on the Monday morning 
to some friends in London. 

' If you come after breakfast you will find Miss Mai- 
lory alone. I will tell her first thing that you are here/ 

Marsham assented, and got up to take his leave. In- 
voluntarily he looked round the drawing-room where 
he had first seen Diana the day before. Then it was 
flooded by spring sunshine not more radiant than 
her face. Now a solitary lamp made a faint spot of 
light amid the shadows of the panelled walls. He and 
Mrs. Colwood spoke almost in whispers. The old house, 
generally so winning and sympathetic, seemed to hold 
itself silent and aloof as though in this touch of 
calamity the living were no longer its masters and 
the dead generations woke. And, upstairs, Diana lay 
perhaps in her white bed, miserable and alone, not 
knowing that he was there, within a few yards of her. 

Mrs. Colwood noiselessly opened a garden door and 
so dismissed him. It was moonlight outside, and in- 
stead of returning to the inn he took the road up the 
hill to the crest of the encircling down. Diverging a 
little to the left, he found himself on the open hillside, 
at a point commanding the village and Beechcote 
itself, ringed by its ancient woods. In the village two 
dim lights, far apart, were visible ; lights, he thought, 
of sickness or of birth ? for the poor sleep early. One 
of the Beechcote windows shone with a dim illumina- 
tion. Was she there, and sleepless? The sky was full 
of light ; the blanched chalk down on which he stood 
ran northwards in a shining curve, bare in the moon ; 
but in the hollow below, and on the horizon, the dark 
[ 283 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

huddled woods kept watch, guarding the secrets of 
night. The owls were calling in the trees behind him 
some in faint prolonged cry, one in a sharp shrieking 
note. And at whiles a train rushed upon the ear, held 
it, and died away ; or a breeze crept among the dead 
beech leaves at his feet. Otherwise not a sound or 
show of life ; Marsham was alone with night and him- 
self. 

Twenty-four hours little more since on that 
same hillside he had held Diana in his arms in the first 
rapture of love. What was it that had changed? How 
was it for he was frank with himself that the love 
which had been then the top and completion of his life, 
the angel of all good fortune within and without, had 
become now, to some extent, a burden to be borne, an 
obligation to be met? 

Certainly, he loved her well. But she came to him 
now, bringing as her marriage portion, not easy joy 
and success, the full years of prosperity and ambition, 
but poverty, effort, a certain measure of disgrace, and 
the perpetual presence of a ghastly and heart-breaking 
memory. He shrank from this last in a positive and 
sharp impatience. Why should Juliet Sparling's crime 
affect him? depress the vigour and cheerfulness of 
his life? 

As to the effort before him, he felt towards it as a 
man of weak unpractised muscle who endeavours with 
straining to raise a physical weight. He would make 
the effort, but it would tax his whole strength. As he 
strolled along the down, dismally smoking and ponder- 
ing, he made himself contemplate the then and now 
taking stock, as it were, of his life. In this truth-com- 
[ 284 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

pelling darkness, apart from the stimulus of his mo- 
ther's tyranny, he felt himself to be two men : one in 
love with Diana, the other in love with success and 
political ambition, and money as the agent and serv- 
ant of both. He had never for one moment envisaged 
the first love Diana as the alternative to, or sub- 
stitute for, the second love success. As he had con- 
ceived her up to twenty-four hours before, Diana was 
to be, indeed, one of the chief elements and ministers 
of success. In winning her, he was, in fact, to make the 
best of both worlds. A certain cool analytic gift that 
he possessed put all this plainly before him. And now 
it must be a choice between Diana and all those other 
desirable things. 

Take the poverty first. What would it amount to? 
He knew approximately what was Diana's fortune. 
He had meant with easy generosity to leave it all 
in her hands, to do what she would with. Now, until 
his mother came to her senses, they must chiefly de- 
pend upon it. What could he add to it? He had been 
called to the Bar, but had never practised. Director- 
ships no doubt, he might get, like other men ; though 
not so easily now, if it was to be known that his mother 
meant to make a pauper out of him. And once a man 
whom he had met in political life, who was no doubt 
ignorant of his private circumstances, had sounded 
him as to whether he would become the London corre- 
spondent of a great American paper. He had laughed 
then, good-humouredly, at the proposal. Perhaps the 
thing might still be open. It would mean a few extra 
hundreds. 

He laughed again as he thought of it, but not good- 
[ 285 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

humouredly. The whole thing was so monstrous ! His 
mother had close on twenty thousand a year ! For all 
her puritanical training she liked luxury of a cer- 
tain kind and had brought up her son in it. Mar- 
sham had never gambled or speculated or raced. It 
was part of his democratic creed and his Quaker an- 
cestry to despise such modes of wasting money, and to 
be scornful of the men who indulged in them. But the 
best of housing, service, and clothes ; the best shooting, 
whether in England or Scotland ; the best golfing, fish- 
ing, and travelling: all these had come to him year 
after year since his boyhood, without question. His 
mother, of course, had provided the majority of them, 
for his own small income and his allowance from her 
were absorbed by his personal expenses, his Parliament- 
ary life, and the subscriptions to the party, which - 
in addition to his mother's made him, as he was 
well aware, a person of importance in its ranks, quite 
^apart from his record in the House. 

Now all that must be given up. He would be reduced 
to an income including what he imagined to be 
Diana's of less than half his personal spending 
hitherto; and those vast perspectives implied in the 
inheritance at his mother's death of his father's half- 
million must also be renounced. 

No doubt he could just maintain himself in Parlia- 
ment. But everything judged by the standards he 
had been brought up in would be difficult where 
everything till now had been ease. 

He knew his mother too well to doubt her stubborn- 
ness, and his feeling was bitter, indeed. Bitter, too, 
against his father, who had left him in this plight. 
[ 286 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Why had his father distrusted and wronged him so? 
He recalled with discomfort certain collisions of his 
youth ; certain disappointments at school and college 
he had inflicted on his father's ambition ; certain lec- 
tures and gibes from that strong mouth, in his early 
manhood. Absurd ! If his father had had to do with 
a really spendthrift and unsatisfactory son, there 
might have been some sense in it. But for these 
trifles these suspicions these foolish notions of 
a -doctrinaire to inflict this stigma and this yoke 
on him all his days ! 

Suddenly his wanderings along the moonlit hill 
came to a standstill. For he recognised the hollow in 
the chalk the gnarled thorn the wide outlook. 
He stood gazing about him a shamed lover ; con- 
scious of a dozen contradictory feelings. Beautiful 
and tender Diana? 

'Stick to her, Oliver! she is worth it!' Chide's 
eager and peremptory tone smote on the inward ear. 
Of course he would stick to her. The only thing 
which it gave him any pleasure to remember in this 
nightmare of a day was his own answer to Ferrier's 
suggestion that Diana might release him; 'Do you 
imagine I could be such a hound as to let her ? ' As he 
said it, he had been conscious that the words rang 
well ; that he had struck the right attitude, and done 
the right thing. Of course he had done the right thing ! 
What would he, or any other decent person, have 
thought of a man who could draw back from his word, 
for such a cause? 

No ! he resigned himself. He would do nothing 
mean and ungentlemanly. A policy of waiting and 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

diplomacy should be tried. Ferrier might be of some 
use. But, if nothing availed, he must marry and make 
the best of it. He wondered to what charitable soci- 
eties his mother would leave her money ! 

Slowly he strolled back along the hill. That dim 
light, high up on the shrouded walls of Beechcote, 
seemed to go with him, softly, insistently reminding 
him of Diana. The thought of her moved him deeply. 
He longed to have her in his arms, to comfort her, to 
feel her dependent on him for the recovery of joy and 
vitality. It was only by an obstinate and eager dwell- 
ing upon her sweetness and charm that he could pro- 
tect himself against the rise of an invading wave of 
repugnance and depression; the same repugnance, 
the same instinctive longing to escape, which he had 
always felt, as boy or man, in the presence of sickness, 
or death, or mourning. 

Marsham had been long asleep in his queer little 
room at ' The Green Man. ' The last lights were out in 
the village, and the moon had set. Diana stole out of 
bed ; Muriel must not hear her, Muriel whose eyes were 
already so tired and tear-worn with another's grief. 
She went to the window, and, throwing a shawl over 
her, she knelt there, looking out. She was dimly con- 
scious of stars, of the hill, the woods ; what she really 
saw was a prison-room as she was able to imagine it, 
and her mother lying there her young mother 
only four years older than she, Diana, was now. Or 
again she saw the court of law the judge in the black 
cap and her mother looking up. Fanny had said she 
was small and slight with dark hair. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The strange frozen horror of it made tears or 
sleep or rest impossible. She did not think much 
of Marsham ; she could hardly remember what she had 
written to him. Love was only another anguish. Nor 
could it protect her from the images which pursued her. 
The only thought which seemed to soothe the torture 
of imagination was the thought stamped on her brain 
tissue by the long inheritance of centuries the 
thought of Christ on Calvary. ' My God, my God, why 
hast thou forsaken me?' The words repeated them- 
selves again and again. She did not pray in words. 
But her agony crept to the foot of what has become, 
through the action and interaction of two thousand 
years, the typical and representative agony of the 
world, and, clinging there, made wild appeal, like 
the generations before her, to a God in whose hand 
lie the creatures of His will. 

'Mrs. Colwood said I might come and say good-bye 
to you/ said Fanny Merton, holding her head high. 

She stood on the threshold of Diana's little sitting- 
room, looking in. There was an injured pride in her 
bearing, balanced by a certain anxiety which seemed 
to keep it within bounds. 

'Please come in/ said Diana. 

She rose with difficulty from the table where she was 
forcing herself to write a letter. Had she followed her 
own will she would have been up at her usual time and 
down to breakfast. But she had turned faint while 
dressing, and Mrs. Colwood had persuaded her to let 
some tea be brought upstairs. 

Fanny came in, half -closing the door. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Well, I'm off/ she said, flushing. 'I dare say you 
won't want to see me again.' 

Diana came feebly forward, clinging to the chairs. 

' It was n't your fault. I must have known some 
time.' 

Fanny looked at her uneasily. 

'Well, of course, that's true. But I dare say I- 
well I'm no good at beating about the bush, never was! 
And I was in a temper, too that was at the bottom 
of it.' 

Diana made no reply. Her eyes, magnified by ex- 
haustion and pallor, seemed to be keeping a pitiful 
shrinking watch lest she should be hurt again past 
bearing. It was like the shrinking of a child that has 
been tortured, from its tormentor. 

'You are going to London?' 

'Yes. You remember those Devonshire people I 
went to stay with? One of the girls is up in London 
with her aunt. I'm going to board with them a bit.' 

' My lawyers will send the thousand pounds to Aunt 
Merton when they have arranged for it,' said Diana, 
quietly. 'Is that what you wish?' 

A look of relief she could not conceal slipped into 
Fanny's countenance. 

'You're going to give it us after all?' she said, 
stumbling over the words. 

' I promised to give it to you/ 

Fanny fidgeted, but even her perceptions told her 
that further thanks would be out of place. 

'Mother '11 write to you, of course. And you'd 
better send fifty pounds of it to me. I can't go home 
under three months, and I shall run short/ 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Very well/ said Diana. 

' Good-bye/ said Fanny, coming a little nearer. Then 
she looked round her, with a first genuine impulse of 
something like remorse if the word is not too strong. 
It was rather, perhaps, a consciousness of having man- 
aged her opportunities extremely badly. 'I'm sorry 
you did n't like me/ she said, abruptly, 'and I did n't 
mean to be nasty/ 

' Good-bye.' Diana held out her hand ; yet trembling 
involuntarily as she did so. 

Fanny broke out : 

' Diana, why do you look like that? It's all so long 
ago you can't do anything you ought to try and 
forget it/ 

'No, I can't do anything/ said Diana, withdrawing 
her right hand from her cousin, and clasping both 
on her breast. ' I can only ' 

But the word died on her lips; she turned abruptly 
away, adding, hurriedly, in another tone : ' If you ever 
want anything, you know we're always here Mrs. 
Col wood and I. Please give us your address.' 

'Thanks.' Fanny retreated; but could not for- 
bear, as she reached the door, from letting loose the 
thought which burnt her inner mind. She turned 
round deliberately. 'Mr. Marsham'll cheer you up, 
Diana! you'll see. Of course, he'll behave like a 
gentleman. It won't make a bit of difference to you. 
I'll just ask Mrs. Colwood to tell me when it's all 
fixed up/ 

Diana said nothing. She was hanging over the fire, 
and her face was hidden. Fanny waited a moment, 
then opened the door and went. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

As soon as the carriage conveying Miss Merton to 
the station had safely driven off, Mrs. Colwood, who, 
in no conventional sense, had been speeding the part- 
ing guest, ran upstairs again to Diana's room. 

' She 's gone? ' said Diana, faintly. She was standing 
by the window. As she spoke the carriage came into 
view at a bend of the drive and disappeared into the 
trees beyond. Mrs. Colwood saw her shiver. ' Did she 
leave you her address?' 

'Yes. Don't think any more about her. I have 
something to tell you/ 

Diana's painful start was the measure of her state. 

Muriel Colwood put her arms tenderly round the 
slight form. 

'Mr. Marsham will be here directly. He came last 
night too late I would not let him see you. Ah I' 
she released Diana, and made a rapid step to the 
window. ' There he is ! coming by the fields.' 

Diana sat down, as though her limbs trembled 
under her. 

' Did you send for him? ' 

' Yes. You forgive me ? ' 

'Then he has n't got my letter/ 

She said it without looking up, as though to herself. 

Mrs. Colwood knelt down beside her. 

' It is right he should be here,' she said, with energy, 
almost with command; 'it is the right, natural thing/ 

Diana stooped, mechanically, and kissed her; then 
sprang up, quivering, the colour rushing into her 
cheeks. 

'Why, he may n't even know!' 

She threw a piteous look at her companion. 
[ 292 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

* He does know, dear he does know/ 
Diana composed herself. She lifted her hands to 
a tress of hair that was unfastened, and put it in its 
place. Instinctively she straightened her belt, her 
white collar. Mrs. Colwood noticed that she was in 
black again, in one of the dresses of her mourning. 

When Marsham turned, at the sound of the latch, 
to see Diana coming in, all the man's secret calcula- 
tions and revolts were for the moment scattered and 
drowned in sheer pity and dismay. In a few short 
hours can grief so work on youth? He ran to her, but 
she held up a hand which arrested him halfway. Then 
she closed the door, but still stood near it, as though 
she feared to move, or speak, looking at him with her 
appealing eyes. 

'Oliver!' 

He held out his hands. 

'My poor, poor darling!' 

She gave a little cry, as though some tension broke. 
Her lips almost smiled ; but she held him away from 
her. 

'You're not not ashamed of me?' 

His protests were the natural, the inevitable pro- 
tests that any man with red blood in his veins must 
need have uttered, brought face to face with so much 
sorrow and so much beauty. She let him make them, 
while her left hand gently stroked and caressed his 
right hand which held hers ; yet all the time resolutely 
turning her face and her soft breast away, as though 
she dreaded to be kissed, to lose will and identity in 
the mere delight of his touch. And he felt, too, in some 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

strange way, as though the blow that had fallen upon 
her had placed her at a distance from him; not dis- 
graced but consecrate. 

'Will you please sit down and let us talk?' she said, 
after a moment, withdrawing herself. 

She pushed a chair forward, and sat down herself. 
The tears were in her eyes, but she brushed them away 
unconsciously. 

' If papa had told me !' she said, in a low voice 'if 
he had only told me before he died/ 

'It was out of love/ said Marsham; 'but yes it 
would have been wiser kinder to have spoken/ 

She started. 

'Oh no not that. But we might have sorrowed 

together. And he was always alone he bore it 
all alone even when he was dying/ 

'But you, dearest, shall not bear it alone!' cried 
Marsham, finding her hand again and kissing it. ' My 
first task shall be to comfort you to make you for- 
get/ 

He thought she winced at the word 'forget/ 

' When did you first guess or know? ' 

He hesitated then thought it best to tell the 
truth. 

' When we were in the lime-walk/ 

'When you asked her name? I remember' her 
voice broke ' how you wrung my hand ! And you 
never had any suspicion before?' 

' Never. And it makes no difference, Diana to you 
and me none. I want you to understand that now 

at once/ 

She looked at him, smiling tremulously. His words 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

became him; even in her sorrow her eyes delighted in 
his shrewd thin face; in the fair hair, prematurely 
touched with grey, and lying heavily on the broad 
brow ; in the intelligence and distinction of his whole 
aspect. 

'You are so good to me* she said, with a little 
sob. 'No no ! please, dear Oliver ! we have so 
much to talk of.' And again she prevented him from 
taking her in his arms. ' Tell me' she laid her hand 
on his persuasively: 'Sir James, of course, knew from 
the beginning?' 

'Yes from the beginning that first night at 
Tallyn. He is coming down this afternoon, dearest. 
He knew you would want to see him. But it may not 
be till late.' 

'After all, I know so little yet,' she said, bewildered. 
' Only only what Fanny told me.' 

'What made her tell you?' 

'She was angry with me I forget about what. I 
did not understand at first what she was saying. 
Oliver' --she grasped his hand tightly, while the lids 
dropped over the eyes, as though she would shut out 
even his face as she asked her question Ms it true 
that that the death-sentence ' 

'Yes,' said Marsham, reluctantly. 'But it was at 
once commuted. And three weeks after the sentence 
she was released. She lived, Sir James tells me, nearly 
two months after your father brought her home.' 

' I wrote last night to the lawyers' Diana breathed 
it almost in a whisper. ' I am sure there is a letter for 
me I am sure papa wrote.' 

* Promise me one thing!' said Marsham. 'If they 
F 295 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

send you newspapers for my sake, don't read them. 
Sir James will tell you, this afternoon, things the pub- 
lic have never known facts which would certainly 
have altered the verdict if the jury had known. Your 
poor mother struck the blow in what was practically 
an impulse of self-defence, and the evidence which 
mainly convicted her was perjured evidence, as the 
liar who gave it confessed years afterwards. Sir James 
will tell you that. He has the confession/ 

Her face relaxed, her mouth trembled violently. 

'Oh, Oliver! Oliver!' 

She was unable to bear the relief his words brought 
her: she broke down under it. 

He caught her in his arms at last, and she gave way 
she let herself be weak and woman. Clinging to 
him with all the pure passion of a woman and all the 
trust of a child, she felt his kisses on her cheek, and 
her deep sobs shook her upon his breast. Marsham's 
being was stirred to its depths. He gave her the best 
he had to give ; and in that moment of mortal appeal 
on her side and desperate pity on his, their natures 
met in that fusion of spirit and desire wherewith love 
can bend even tragedy and pain to its own uses. 

And yet and yet ! was it in that very moment 
that feeling on the man's side ' o'erleapt itself, 
and fell on the other'? When they resumed conver- 
sation, Marsham's tacit expectation was that Diana 
would now show herself comforted ; that, sure of him 
and of his affection, she would now be ready to put 
the tragic past aside; to think first and foremost of her 
own present life and his, and face the future cheerfully. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

A misunderstanding arose between them, indeed, 
which is, perhaps, one of the typical misunderstand- 
ings between men and women. The man, impatient 
of painful thoughts and recollections, eager to be quit 
of them as weakening and unprofitable, determined 
to silence them by the pleasant clamour of his own 
ambitions and desires; the woman, priestess of the 
past, clinging to all the pieties of memory, in terror 
lest she forget the dead, feeling it a disloyalty even 
to draw the dagger from the wound between these 
two figures and dispositions there is a deep and nat- 
ural antagonism. 

It showed itself rapidly in the case of Marsham and 
Diana ; for their moment of high feeling was no sooner 
over, and she sitting quietly again, her hand in his, the 
blinding tears dashed away, than Marsham's mind flew 
inevitably to his own great sacrifice. She must be com- 
forted, indeed, poor child ! yet he could not but feel 
that he, too, deserved consolation, and that his own 
most actual plight was no less worthy of her thoughts 
than the ghastly details of a tragedy twenty years 
old. 

Yet she seemed to have forgotten Lady Lucy ! 
to have no inkling of the real situation. And he could 
find no way in which to break it. 

For, in little broken sentences of horror and recol- 
lection, she kept going back to her mother's story - 
her father's silence and suffering. It was as though 
her mind could not disentangle itself from the load 
which had been flung upon it could not recover its 
healthiness of action amid the phantom sights and 
sounds which beset imagination. Again and again 
[ 297 ] 



. THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

she must ask him for details and shrink from the 
answers ; must hide her eyes with the little moan that 
wrung his heart; and break out in ejaculations, as 
though of bewilderment, under a revelation so singu- 
lar and so terrible. 

It was to be expected, of course ; he could only hope 
it would soon pass. Secretly, after a time, he was re- 
pelled and wearied. He answered her with the same 
tender words, he tried to be all kindness ; but more 
perfunctorily. The oneness of that supreme moment 
vanished and did not return. 

Meanwhile, Diana's perceptions, stunned by the 
one overmastering thought, gave her no warning. 
And, in truth, if Marsham could have understood, the 
process of mental recovery was set going in her by just 
this freedom of utterance to the man she loved 
these words and looks and tears that brought ease 
after the dumb horror of the first hours. 

At last he made an effort, hiding the nascent im- 
patience in a caress. 

' If I could only persuade you not to dwell upon it 
too persistently to put it from your thoughts as 
soon and as much as you can! Dear, we shall have 
our own anxieties!' 

She looked up with a sudden start. 

'My mother/ he said, reluctantly, 'may give us 
trouble.' 

The colour rushed into Diana's cheeks, and ebbed 
with equal suddenness. 

'Lady Lucy! Oh! how could I forget? Oliver! 
she thinks I am not fit !' 

And in her eyes he saw for the first time the self- 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

abasement he had dreaded, yet perhaps expected, to 
see there before. For in her first question to him there 
had been no real doubt of him ; it had been the natural 
humility of wounded love that cries out, expecting 
the reply that no power on earth could check itself 
from giving were the case reversed. 

' Dearest ! you know my mother's .bringing-up : her 
Quaker training, and her rather stern ideas. We shall 
persuade her in time/ 

' In time? And now she she forbids it?' 

Her voice faltered. And yet, unconsciously, she had 
drawn herself a little together and away. 

Marsham began to give a somewhat confused and 
yet guarded account of his mother's state of mind, en- 
deavouring to prepare her for the letter which might 
arrive on the morrow. He got up and moved about 
the room as he spoke, while Diana sat, looking at him, 
her lips trembling from time to time. Presently he 
mentioned Ferrier's name, and Diana started. 

' Does he think it would do you harm that you 
ought to give me up?' 

' Not he ! And if anybody can make my mother hear 
reason, it will be Ferrier.' 

' Lady Lucy believes it would injure you in Parlia- 
ment?' faltered Diana. 

'No, I don't believe she does. No sane person 
could/ 

'Then it's because of the disgrace? Oliver! 
perhaps you ought to give me up?' 

She breathed quick. It stabbed him to see the flush 
in her cheeks contending with the misery in her eyes. 
She could not pose, or play a part. What she could 
[ 299 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

not hide from him was just the conflict between her 
love and her new-born shame. Before that scene on 
the hill there would have been her girlish dignity also 
to reckon with. But the greater had swallowed up 
the less ; and from her own love in innocent and 
simple faith she imagined his. 

So that when she spoke of his giving her up, it was 
not her pride that spoke, but only and truly her fear of 
doing him a hurt by which she meant a hurt in pub- 
lic estimation or repute. The whole business side of 
the matter was unknown to her. She had never 
speculated on his circumstances, and she was consti- 
tutionally and rather proudly indifferent to questions 
of money. Vaguely, of course, she knew that the 
Marshams were rich and that Tallyn was Lady Lucy's. 
Beyond, she had never inquired. 

This absence of all self-love in her attitude to- 
gether with her complete ignorance of the calculation 
in which she was involved touched him sharply. 
It kept him silent about the money ; it seemed impos- 
sible to speak of it. And yet all the time the thought 
of it clamoured perhaps increasingly in his own 
mind. 

He told her that they must stand firm that she 
must be patient that Ferrier would work for them 
and Lady Lucy would come round. And she, lov- 
ing him more and more with every word, seeing in him 
a god of consolation and of chivalry, trusted him 
wholly. It was characteristic of her that she did not 
attempt heroics for the heroics 7 sake; there was no 
idea of renouncing him with a flourish of trumpets. 
He said he loved her, and she believed him. But 
[ 300 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her heart went on its knees to him in a gratitude 
that doubled love, even in the midst of her aching 
bewilderment and pain. 

He made her come out with him before luncheon ; 
he talked with her of politics and their future; he 
did his best to scatter the nightmare in which she 
moved. 

But after a while he felt his efforts fail. The scenes 
that held her mind betrayed themselves in her re- 
current pallor, the trembling of her hand in his, 
her piteous, sudden looks. She did not talk of her 
mother, but he could not presently rouse her to talk 
of anything else; she sat silent in her chair, gazing 
before her, her slender hands on her knee, dreaming 
and forlorn. 

Then he remembered, and with involuntary relief, 
that he must get back to town, and to the House, for 
an important division. He told her, and she made no 
protest. Evidently she was already absorbed in the 
thought of Sir James Chide's visit. 

But when the time came for him to go she let her- 
self be kissed, and then, as he was moving away, she 
caught his hand, and held it wildly to her lips. 

' Oh, if you had n't come ! if you had n't come !' 

Her tears fell on the hand. 

'But I did come!' he said, caressing her. 'I was 
here last night did Mrs. Colwood tell you? After- 
wards in the dark I walked up to the hill, only 
to look down upon this house, that held you.' 

'If I had known,' she murmured, on his breast, 'I 
should have slept.' 

He went in exaltation; overwhelmed by her 
[ 301 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

charm even in this eclipse of grief, and by the percep- 
tion of her passion. 

But before he was halfway to London he felt that 
he had been rather foolish and quixotic in not having 
told her simply and practically what his mother's 
opposition meant. She must learn it some day ; better 
from him than others. His mother, indeed, might tell 
her in the letter she had threatened to write. But 
he thought not. Nobody was more loftily secret as 
to business affairs than Lady Lucy ; money might not 
have existed for the rare mention she made of it. No ; 
she would base her opposition on other grounds. 

These reflexions brought him back to earth, and to 
the gloomy pondering of the situation. Half a million ! 

because of the ill-doing of a poor neurotic woman 

twenty years ago ! 

It filled him with a curious resentment against Juliet 
Sparling herself, which left him still more out of sym- 
pathy with Diana's horror and grief. It must really be 
understood, when they married, that Mrs. Sparling's 
name was never to be mentioned between them that 
the whole grimy business was to be buried out of 
sight for ever. 

And with a great and morbid impatience he shook 
the recollection from him. The bustle of Whitehall, as 
he drove down it, was like wine in his veins ; the crowd 
and the gossip of the Central Lobby, as he pressed his 
way through to the door of the House of Commons, 
had never been so full of stimulus or savour. In this 
agreeable, exciting world he knew his place ; the relief 
was enormous; and, for a time, Marsham was himself 
again. 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Sir James Chide came in the late afternoon; and 
in her two hours with him, Diana learnt, from lips 
that spared her all they could, the heart-breaking 
story of which Fanny had given her but the crudest 
outlines. 

The full story, and its telling, taxed the courage 
both of hearer and speaker. Diana bore it, as it seemed 
to Sir James, with the piteous simplicity of one in 
whose nature grief had no pretences to overcome. 
The iron entered into her soul, and her quick imag- 
ination made her torment. But her father had taught 
her lessons of self-conquest, and in this first testing 
of her youth she did not fail. Sir James was aston- 
ished at the quiet she was able to maintain, and touched 
to the heart by the suffering she could not conceal. 

Nothing was said of his own relation to her mo- 
ther's case; but he saw that she understood it, and 
their hearts moved together. When he rose to take 
his leave, she held his hand in hers with such a look 
in her eyes as a daughter might have worn; and he, 
with an emotion to which he gave little outward 
expression, vowed to himself that henceforward she 
should lack no fatherly help or counsel that he could 
give her. 

He gathered, with relief, that the engagement per- 
sisted, and the perception led him to praise Marsham 
in a warm Irish way. But he could not find anything 
hopeful to say of Lady Lucy. ' If you only hold to 
each other, my dear young lady, things will come 
right!' Diana flushed and shrank a little, and he felt 
helplessly that the battle was for their fighting, 
and not his. 

[ 303 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Meanwhile, as he had seen Mr. Riley, he did his best 
to prepare her for the letters and enclosures, which 
had been for twenty years in the custody of the firm, 
and would reach her on the morrow. 

But what he did not prepare her for was the letter 
from Lady Lucy Marsham which reached Beechcote 
by the evening post, after Sir James had left. 

The letter lay a while on Diana's knee, unopened. 
Muriel Colwood, glancing at her, went away with the 
tears in her eyes, and at last the stumbling fingers 
broke the seal. 

MY DEAR Miss MALLORY, I want you to under- 
stand why it is that I must oppose your marriage with 
my son. You know well, I think, how gladly I should 
have welcomed you as a daughter but for this terrible 
revelation. As it is, I cannot consent to the engage- 
ment, and if it is carried out Oliver must renounce the 
inheritance of his father's fortune. I do not say this 
as any vulgar threat. It is simply that I cannot allow 
my husband's wealth to be used in furthering what he 
would never have permitted. He had and so have 
I the strongest feeling as to the sacredness of the 
family and its traditions. He held, as I do, that it 
ought to be founded in mutual respect and honour, and 
that children should have round about them the help 
that comes from the memory of unstained and God- 
fearing ancestors. Do you not also feel this? Is it not 
a great principle, to which personal happiness and 
gratification may justly be sacrificed? And would 
not such a sacrifice bring with it the highest happiness 
of all? 

[ 304 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Do not think that I am cruel or hard-hearted. I 
grieve for you with all my soul, and I have prayed for 
you earnestly, though, perhaps, you will consider this 
mere hypocrisy. But I must first think of my son 
and of my husband. Very possibly you and Oliver 
may disregard what I say. But if so, I warn you that 
Oliver is not indifferent to money, simply because the 
full development of his career depends on it. He will 
regret what he has done, and your mutual happiness 
will be endangered. Moreover, he shrinks from all 
painful thoughts and associations; he seems to have 
no power to bear them; yet how can you protect him 
from them? 

I beg you to be counselled in time, to think of him 
rather than yourself if, indeed, you care for him. 
And should you decide rightly, an old woman's love 
and gratitude will be yours as long as she lives. 

Believe me, dear Miss Mallory, 

Very sincerely yours, 

LUCY MARSHAM. 

Diana dragged herself upstairs and locked her door. 
At ten o'clock Mrs. Colwood knocked, and heard a low 
voice asking to be left alone. She went away wonder^ 
ing, in her astonishment and terror, what new blow 
had fallen. No sound reached her during the night 
except the bluster of a north wind rushing in great 
gusts upon the hillside and the woods. 



CHAPTER XIV 

JUATE on Monday afternoon Lady Niton paid a call in 
Eaton Square. She and Lady Lucy were very old 
friends, and rarely passed a week when they were both 
in town without seeing each other. 

Mr. Ferrier lunched with her on Monday, and casu- 
ally remarked that Lady Lucy was not as well as 
usual. Lady Niton replied that she would look her up 
that afternoon; and she added : 'And what about that 
procrastinating fellow Oliver? Is he engaged yet?' 

'Not to my knowledge/ said Mr. Ferrier, after a 
pause. 

' Then he ought to be ! What on earth is he shilly- 
shallying for? In my days young men had proper 
blood in their veins/ 

Ferrier did not pursue the subject, and Lady Niton 
at once jumped to the conclusion that something had 
happened. By five o'clock she was in Eaton Square. 

Only Alicia Drake was in the drawing-room when 
she was announced. 

'I hear Lucy's seedy/ said the old lady, abruptly, 
after vouchsafing a couple of fingers to Miss Drake. 
'I suppose she's been starving herself, as usual?' 

Oliver's mother enjoyed an appetite as fastidious as 
her judgements on men and morals, and Lady Niton 
had a running quarrel with her on the subject. 

Alicia replied that it had been, indeed, unusually 
difficult of late to persuade Lady Lucy to eat. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'The less you eat the less you may eat/ said Lady 
Niton, with vigour. ' The stomach contracts unless you 
give it something to do. That's what's the matter 
with Lucy, my dear though, of course, I never dare 
name the organ. But I suppose she's been worrying 
herself about something?' 

'I am afraid she has.' 

'Is Oliver engaged?' asked Lady Niton, suddenly, 
observing the young lady. 

Alicia replied demurely that that question had per- 
haps better be addressed to Lady Lucy. 

'What's the matter? Can't the young people make 
up their minds? Do they want Lucy to make them up 
for them?' 

Alicia looked at her companion a little under her 
brows, and did not reply. Lady Niton was so piqued 
by the girl's expression that she immediately threw 
herself on the mystery she divined tearing and 
scratching at it, like a dog in a rabbit-hole. And very 
soon she had dragged it to the light. Miss Drake 
merely remarked that it was very sad, but it appeared 
that Miss Mallory was not really a Mallory at all, 
but the daughter of a certain Mrs. Sparling Juliet 
Sparling, who - 

'Juliet Sparling!' cried Lady Niton, her queer small 
eyes starting in their sockets. ' My dear, you must be 
mad!' 

Alicia smiled, though gravely. She was afraid Lady 
Niton would find that what she said was true. 

A cross-examination followed, after which Lady 
Niton sat speechless for a while. She took a fan out of 
her large reticule and fanned herself, a proceeding by 
[ 307 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

which she often protested against the temperature at 
which Lady Lucy kept her drawing-room. She then 
asked for a window to be opened, and when she had 
been sufficiently oxygenated she delivered herself : 

'Well, and why not? We really did n't have the 
picking and choosing of our mothers or fathers, though 
Lucy always behaves as though we had to the 
fourth generation. Besides, I always took the side of 
that poor creature, and Lucy believed the worst as 
usual. Well, and so she's going to make Oliver back 
out of it?' 

At this point the door opened, and Lady Lucy 
glided in, clad in a frail majesty which would have 
overawed any one but Elizabeth Niton. Alicia dis- 
creetly disappeared, and Lady Niton, after an inquiry 
as to her friend's health delivered, as it were, at the 
point of the bayonet, and followed by a flying remark 
on the absurdity of treating your body as if it were 
only given you to be harried plunged headlong into 
the great topic. What an amazing business ! Now at 
last one would see what Oliver was made of ! 

Lady Lucy summoned all her dignity, expounded 
her view, and entirely declined to be laughed or rated 
out of it. For Elizabeth Niton, her wig much awry, her 
old eyes and cheeks blazing, took up the cause of Diana 
with alternate sarcasm and eloquence. As for the 
social disrepute stuff ! All that was wanting to 
such a beautiful creature as Diana Mallory was a story 
and a scandal. Positively she would be the rage, and 
Oliver's fortune was made. 

Lady Lucy sat in pale endurance, throwing in an 
occasional protest, not budging by one inch and no 
[ 308 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

doubt reminding herself from time to time, in the in- 
tervals of her old friend's attacks, of the letter she had 
just dispatched to Beechcote until, at last, Lady 
Niton, having worked herself up into a fine frenzy to 
no purpose at all, thought it was time to depart. 

'Well, my dear/ she said, leaning on her stick, the 
queerest rag-bag of a figure crooked wig, rusty 
black dress, and an unspeakable bonnet ' you are a 
saint, of course, and I am a quarrelsome old sinner ; I 
like society, and you, I believe, regard it as a grove of 
barren fig-trees. I don't care a rap for my neighbour if 
he does n't amuse me, and you live in a puddle of good 
works. But, upon my word, I would n't be you when 
it comes to the sheep and the goats business ! Here is 
a young girl, sweet and good and beautifully brought 
up money and manners and everything handsome 
about her she is in love with Oliver, and he with her 
and just because you happen to find out that she is 
the daughter of a poor creature who made a tragic 
mess of her life, and suffered for it infinitely more than 
you and I are ever likely to suffer for our intolerably 
respectable peccadilloes you will break her heart and 
his if he's the good luck to have one! and there 
you sit, looking like a suffering angel, and expecting all 
your old friends, I suppose, to pity and admire you. 
Well, I won't, Lucy! I won't! That's flat. There's 
my hand. Good-bye!' 

Lady Lucy took it patiently, though from no other 
person in the world save Elizabeth Niton would she 
have so taken it. 

'I thought, Elizabeth, you would have tried to 
understand me/ 

[ 309 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Elizabeth Niton shook her head. 

' There's only your Maker could do that, Lucy. And 
He must be pretty puzzled to account for you some- 
times. Good-bye. I thought Alicia looked uncom- 
monly cheerful!' 

This last remark was delivered as a parting shot as 
Lady Niton hobbled to the door. She could not, how- 
ever, resist pausing to see its effect. 

Lady Lucy turned indignantly. 

'I don't know what you mean by that remark. 
Alicia has behaved with great kindness and tact!' 

'I dare say! We're all darlings when we get our 
way. What does Ferrier say?' 

Lady Lucy hesitated. 

' If my old friends cannot see it as I do if they 
blame me I am very sorry. But it is my respons- 
ibility.' 

'A precious good thing, my dear, for everybody 
else ! But as far as I can make out, they are engaged ? ' 

'Nothing is settled,' said Lady Lucy, hastily; 'and 
I need not say, Elizabeth, that if you have any affec- 
tion for us or any consideration for Miss Mallory 
you will not breathe a word of this most sad business 
to anybody.' 

'Well, for Oliver's sake, if he doesn't intend to 
behave like a man, I do certainly hope it may be kept 
dark!' cried Lady Niton. 'For if he does desert her, 
under such circumstances, I suppose you know that a 
great many people will be inclined to cut him? I shall 
hold my tongue. But, of course, it will come out/ 

With which final shaft she departed, leaving Lady 
Lucy a little uneasy. She mentioned Elizabeth Niton's 
[ 310 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'foolish remark' to Mrs. Fotheringham in the course of 
the evening. Isabel Fotheringham laughed it to scorn. 

' You may be quite sure there will be plenty of ill- 
natured talk either way, whether Oliver gives her up 
or does n't. The real thing to bear in mind is that if 
Oliver yields to your wishes, mamma as you cer- 
tainly deserve that he should, after all you have done 
for him he will be delivered from an ignorant and 
reactionary wife who might have spoilt his career. I 
like to call a spade a spade. Oliver belongs to his party, 
and his party have a right to count upon him. He has 
no right to jeopardise either his opinions or his money ; 
we have a claim on both/ 

Lady Lucy gave an unconscious sigh. She was glad 
of any arguments, from anybody, that offered her sup- 
port. But it did occur to her that if Diana Mallory had 
not shown a weakness for the soldiers of her country, 
and if her heart had been right on Women's Suffrage, 
Isabel would have judged her case differently ; so that 
her approval was not worth all it might have been. 

Meanwhile, in the House of Commons, Isabel Fother- 
ingham's argument was being put in other forms. 

On the Tuesday morning Marsham went down to the 
House, for a Committee, in a curious mood half 
love, half martyrdom. The thought of Diana was very 
sweet; it warmed and thrilled his heart. But some- 
how, with every hour, he realised more fully what a 
magnificent thing he was doing, and how serious was 
his position. 

In a few hurried words with Ferrier, before the 
meeting of the House, Marsham gave the result of his 
[ 311 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

visit to Beechcote. Diana had been, of course, very 
much shaken, but was bearing the thing bravely. They 
were engaged, but nothing was to be said in public for 
at least six months, so as to give Lady Lucy time to 
reconsider. 

'Though, of course, I know, as far as that is con- 
cerned, we might as well be married to-morrow and 
have done with it!' 

' Ah ! but it is due to her to your mother/ 

'I suppose it is. But the whole situation is gro- 
tesque. I must look out for some way of making 
money. Any suggestions thankfully received !' 

Marsham spoke with an irritable flippancy. Fer- 
rier's hazel eyes, set and almost lost in spreading 
cheeks, dwelt upon him thoughtfully. 

'All right; I will think of some. You explained the 
position to Miss Mallory?' 

'No/ said Marsham, shortly. 'How could I?' 

The alternatives flew through Ferrier's mind : 'Cow- 
ardice? or delicacy?' Aloud, he said: 'I am afraid 
she will not be long in ignorance. It will be a big fight 
for her, too.' 

Marsham shrugged his thin shoulders. 

' Of course. And all for nothing. Hullo, Fleming ! 
do you want me?' 

For the Liberal Chief Whip had paused beside them 
where they stood, in a corner of the smoking-room, as 
though wishing to speak to one or other of them, yet 
not liking to break up their conversation. 

' Don't let me interrupt,' he said to Marsham. ' But 
can I have a word presently?' 

'Now, if you like.' 

[ 312 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Come to the Terrace/ said the other, and they went 
out into the grey of a March afternoon. There they 
walked up and down for some time, engaged in an 
extremely confidential conversation. Signs of a gen- 
eral election were beginning to be strong and numer- 
ous. The Tory Government was weakening visibly, and 
the Liberals felt themselves in sight of an autumn, if 
not a summer, dissolution. But funds ! there was 
the rub. The party coffers were very poorly supplied, 
and unless they could be largely replenished, and at 
once, the prospects of the election were not rosy. 

Marsham had hitherto counted as one of the men 
on whom the party could rely. It was known that his 
own personal resources were not great, but he com- 
manded his mother's ample purse. Lady Lucy had 
always shown herself both loyal and generous, and at 
her death it was, of course, assumed that he would 
be her heir. Lady Lucy's cheque, in fact a large 
cheque, the result of old economies sent through 
her son, to the leading party club, had been of con- 
siderable importance in the election five years before 
this date, in which Marsham himself had been re- 
turned; the Chief Whip wanted to assure himself 
that in case of need it would be repeated. 

But for the first time in a conversation of this kind 
Marsham's reply was halting and uncertain. He would 
do his best, but he could not pledge himself. When 
the Chief Whip, disappointed and astonished, broke up 
their conference, Marsham walked into the House after 
him, in the morbid belief that a large part of his influ- 
ence and prestige with his party was already gone. Let 
those fellows, he thought, who imagine that the popu- 
[ 313 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

lar party can be run without money, inform them- 
selves, and not talk like asses ! 

In the afternoon, during an exciting debate on a sub- 
ject Marsham had made to some extent his own, and 
in which he was expected to speak, two letters were 
brought to him. One was from Diana. He put it into 
his pocket, feeling an instinctive recoil with his 
speech in sight from the emotion it must needs ex- 
press and arouse. The other was from the chairman of 
a Committee in Dunscombe, the chief town of his divi- 
sion. The town was so far without any proper hall 
for public meetings. It was proposed to build a new 
Liberal Club with a hall attached. The leading local 
supporter of the scheme wrote with apologies to 
ask Marsham what he was prepared to subscribe. It 
was early days to make the inquiry, but in confid- 
ence he might state that he was afraid local sup- 
port for the scheme would mean more talk than money. 
Marsham pondered the letter gloomily. A week earlier 
he would have gone to his mother for a thousand 
pounds without any doubt of her reply. 

It was just towards the close of the dinner-hour 
that Marsham caught the Speaker's eye. Perhaps 
the special effort that had been necessary to recall his 
thoughts to the point had given his nerves a stimulus. 
At any rate, he spoke unusually well, and sat down 
amid the cheers of his party, conscious that he had 
advanced his Parliamentary career. 

A good many congratulations reached him during 
the evening; he 'drank delight of battle with his 
peers,' for the division went well, and when he left the 
[ 314 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

House at one o'clock in the morning it was in a mood 
of tingling exhilaration, and with a sense of height- 
ened powers. 

It was not till he reached his own room, in his 
mother's hushed and darkened house, that he opened 
Diana's letter. 

The mere sight of it, as he drew it out of his pocket, 
jarred upon him strangely. It recalled to him the fears 
and discomforts, the sense of sudden misfortune and of 
ugly associations, which had been, for a time, obliter- 
ated in the stress and interest of politics. He opened 
it almost reluctantly, wondering at himself. 

MY DEAR OLIVER, This letter from your mother 
reached me last night. I don't know what to say, 
though I have thought for many hours. I ought not to 
do you this great injury; that seems plain tome. Yet, 
then, I think of all you said to me, and I feel you must 
decide. You must do what is best for your future and 
your career ; and I shall never blame you, whatever you 
think right. I wish I had known, or realised, the whole 
truth about your mother when you were still here. It 
was my stupidity. 

I have no claim none against what is best for 
you. Just two words, Oliver! and I think they 
ought to be 'Good-bye.' 

Sir James Chide came after you left, and was most 
dear and kind. To-day I have my father's letter 
and one from my mother that she wrote for me 
twenty years ago. I mustn't write any more. My eyes 
are so tired. Your grateful 

DIANA. 
[ 315 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

He laid down the blurred note, and turned to the 
enclosure. Then he read his mother's letter. And he 
had imagined, in his folly, that his mother's refinement 
would at least make use of some other weapon than the 
money ! Why, it was all money ! a blunderbuss of 
the crudest kind, held at Diana's head in the crudest 
way. This is how the saints behave the people of 
delicacy when it comes to a pinch ! He saw his mo- 
ther stripped of all her pretensions, her spiritual airs, 
and for the first time in his life his life of unwilling 
subordination he dared to despise her. 

But neither contempt nor indignation helped him 
much. How was he to answer Diana? He paced up 
and down for an hour considering it, then sat down 
and wrote. 

His letter ran as follows : 

DEAREST DIANA, I asked you to be my wife, and 
I stand by my word. I did not like to say too much 
about my mother's state of mind when we were to- 
gether yesterday, but I am afraid it is very true that 
she will withdraw her present allowance to me, and 
deprive me of the money which my father left. Most 
unjustly, as it has always seemed to me, she has com- 
plete control over it. Never mind. I must see what 
can be done. No doubt my political career will be, for 
a time, much affected. We must hope it will only be 
for a time. 

Ferrier and Sir James believe that my mother 

cannot maintain her present attitude. But I do not, 

alack! share their belief. I realise, as no one can who 

does not live in the same house with her, the strength 

[ 316 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and obstinacy of her will. She will, I suppose, leave 
my father's half-million to some of the charitable 
societies in which she believes, and we must try and 
behave as though it had never existed. I don't regret 
it for myself. But of course, there are many public 
causes one would have liked to help. 

If I can, I will come down to Beechcote on Satur- 
day again. Meanwhile, do let me urge you to take care 
of your health, and not to dwell too much on a past 
that nothing can alter. I understand, of course, how 
it must affect you ; but I am sure it will be best best, 
indeed, for us both that you should now put it as 
much as possible out of your mind. It may not be pos- 
sible to hide the sad truth. I fear it will not be. But I 
am sure that the less said or even thought about 
it, the better. You won't think me unkind, will you? 

You will see a report of my speech in the debate 
to-morrow. It certainly made an impression, and I 
must manage, if I can, to stick to Parliament. But we 
will consult when we meet. 

Your most loving 

OLIVER. 

As he wrote it Marsham had been uncomfortably 
conscious of another self beside him mocking, or 
critical. 

'I don't regret it for myself/ Pshaw! What was 
there to choose between him and his mother? There, 
on his writing-table, lay a number of recent bills, and 
some correspondence as to a Scotch moor he had per- 
suaded his mother to take for the coming season. There 
was now to be an end, he supposed, to the expenditure 
[ 317 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

which the bills represented, and an end to expensive 
moors. ' I don't regret it for myself/ Damned hum- 
bug ! When did any man brought up in wealth make 
the cold descent to poverty and self-denial without 
caring ? Yet he let the sentence stand. He was too 
sleepy, too inert, to rewrite it. 

And how cold were all his references to the catastro- 
phe ! He groaned as he thought of Diana as though 
he actually saw the vulture gnawing at the tender 
breast. Had she slept? had the tears stopped? Let 
him tear up the beastly thing, and begin again ! 

No. His head fell forward on his arm. Some dull 
weight of character of disillusion interposed. 
He could do no better. He shut, stamped, and posted 
what he had written. 

At midday, in her Brookshire village, Diana re- 
ceived the letter with another from London, in a 
handwriting she did not know. 

When she had read Marsham's it dropped from her 
hand. The colour flooded her cheeks as though the 
heart leapt beneath a fresh blow which it could not 
realise or measure. Was it so she would have written 
to Oliver if 

She was sitting at her writing-table in the drawing- 
room. Her eyes wandered through the mullioned win- 
dow beside her to the hillside and the woods. This 
was Wednesday. Four days since, among those trees, 
Oliver had spoken to her. During those four days it 
seemed to her that, in the old Hebrew phrase, she had 
gone down into the pit. All the nameless dreads and 
terrors of her youth, all the intensified fears of the last 
[ 318 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

few weeks, had in a few minutes become real and veri- 
fied only in a shape infinitely more terrible than any 
fear among them all had ever dared to prophesy. The 
story of her mother the more she knew of it, the 
more she realised it, the more sharply it bit into the 
tissues of life ; the more it seemed to set Juliet Sparling 
and Juliet Sparling's child alone by themselves in 
a dark world. 

Diana had never yet had the courage to venture 
out-of-doors since the news came to her ; she feared 
to see even her old friends the Roughsedges, and had 
been invisible to them since the Saturday ; she feared 
even the faces of the village children. 

All through she seemed to have been clinging to Mar- 
sham's supporting hand as to the clue which might 
when Nature had had its way lead her back out of 
this labyrinth of pain. But surely he would let her 
sorrow a while ! would sorrow with her. Under the 
strange coldness and brevity of his letter, she felt like 
the children in the market-place of old ' We have 
mourned unto you, and ye have not wept/ 

Yet if her story was not to be a source of sorrow 
of divine pity it could only be a source of disgrace 
and shame. Tears might wash it out ! But to hate and 
resent it so it seemed to her must be in a 
world, where every detail of such a thing was or would 
be known to go through life branded and crushed 
by it. If the man who was to be her husband could 
only face it thus (by a stern ostracism of the dead, by 
silencing all mention of them between himself and her), 
her cheeks could never cease to burn, her heart to 
shrink. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Now at last she felt herself weighed indeed to the 
earth, because Marsham, in that measured letter, had 
made her realise the load on him. 

All that huge wealth he was to give up for her? His 
mother had actually the power to strip him of his in- 
heritance? and would certainly exercise it to punish 
him for marrying her Diana? 

Humiliation came upon her like a flood, and a bitter 
insight followed. Between the lines of the letter she 
read the reluctance, the regrets of the man who had 
written it. She saw that he would be faithful to her if 
he could, but that in her own concentration of love she 
had accepted what Oliver had not in truth the strength 
to give her. The Marsham she loved had suddenly 
disappeared, and in his place was a Marsham whom 
she might at a personal cost he would never forget, 
and might never forgive persuade or compel to 
marry her. 

She sprang up. For the first time since the blow had 
fallen, vigour had returned to her movements and life 
to her eyes. 

' Ah, no ! ' she said to herself, panting a little. ' No ! ' 

A letter fell to the ground the letter in the un- 
known handwriting. Some premonition made her 
open it and prepared her for the signature. 

MY DEAR Miss MALLORY, I heard of the sad dis- 
covery which had taken place, from my cousin, Miss 
Drake, on Sunday morning, and came up at once from 
the country to be with my mother; for I know well 
with what sympathy she had been following Oliver's 
wishes and desires. It is a very painful business. I 
[ 320 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

do most truly regret the perplexing situation in which 
you find yourself, and I am sure you will not resent 
it if, as Oliver's sister, I write you my views on the 
matter. 

I am afraid it is useless to expect that my mother 
should give way. And, then, the question is, What is 
the right course for you and Oliver to pursue? I under- 
stand that he proposed to you, and you accepted him, 
in ignorance of the melancholy truth. And, like a man 
of honour, he proposes to stand by his engagement 
unless, of course, you release him. 

Now, if I were in your place, I should expect to con- 
sider such a matter not as affecting myself only, but in 
its relation to society and the community. Our first 
duty is to Society. We owe it everything, and we must 
not act selfishly toward it. Consider Oliver's position. 
He has his foot on the political ladder. Every session 
his influence in Parliament increases. His speech to- 
night was as I hear from a man who has just come 
from the debate the most brilliant he has yet made. 
It is extremely likely that when our party comes in 
again he will have office, and in ten or fifteen years' 
time what is there to prevent his being even Prime 
Minister? with all the mighty influence over mil- 
lions of human beings which that means? 

But to give him every chance in his career money 
is, unfortunately, indispensable. Every English Prime 
Minister has been a rich man. It may be a blot on our 
English life. I think it is. But then, I have been all my 
life on the side of the poor. You, who are a Tory and 
an Imperialist, who sympathise with militarism and 
with war, will agree that it is important our politicians 
[ 321 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

should be among the ' Haves/ that a man's possessions 
do matter to his party and his cause. 

They matter especially at the present moment 
to our party and our cause. We are the poor party, 
and our rich men are few and far between. 

You may say that you would help him, and that 
your own money would be at his disposal. But could 
a man live upon his wife, in such circumstances, with 
any self-respect? Of course, I know that you are very 
young, and I trust that your views on many subjects, 
social and political, will change, and change materially, 
before long. It is a serious thing for women nowadays 
to throw themselves across the path of progress. At 
the same time I see that you have a strong if I may 
say so a vehement character. It may not be easy 
for you to cast off at once what, I understand, has been 
your father's influence. And meanwhile Oliver would 
be fighting all your father's and your ideas largely 
on your money ; for he has only a thousand a year of 
his own. 

Please let me assure you that I am not influenced 
by my mother's views. She attaches importance an 
exaggerated if she were not my mother, I should 
say an absurd importance, to the family. Whereas, 
ideas the great possibilities of the future when 
free men and women shall lead a free and noble life - 
these are what influence me these are what I live for. 

It will cause you both pain to separate. I know 
that. But summon a rational will to your aid, and you 
will soon see that passion is a poor thing compared to 
impersonal and unselfish aims. The cause of women - 
their political and social enfranchisement the free- 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ing of men from the curse of militarism of both men 
and women from the patriotic lies which make us bul- 
lies and cowards it is to these I would invite you 
when you have overcome a mere personal grief. 

I fear I shall seem to you a voice crying in the wild- 
erness ; but I write in Oliver's interest and your 
own. Yours sincerely, 

ISABEL FOTHERINGHAM. 

P. S. Our secretary, Mrs. Derrick Smith, at the 
Mary Wollstonecraft Club, will always be glad to send 
you any literature you might require. 

Diana read to the end. She put it down with some- 
thing like a smile. As she paced the room, her head 
thrown back, her hands behind her, the weight had 
been lifted from her ; she breathed from a freer breast. 
Very soon she went back to her desk and began to 
write. 

MY DEAR OLIVER, I did not realise how things 
were when you came yesterday. Now I see. You must 
not marry me. I could not bear to bring poverty 
upon you, and to-day I do not feel that I have 
the strength to meet your mother's and your sister's 
opposition. 

Will you please tell Lady Lucy and Mrs. Fothering- 
ham that I have received their letters? It will not 
be necessary to answer them. You will tell them that 
I have broken off the engagement. 

You were very good to me yesterday. I thank you 
with all my heart. But it is not in my power yet 
[ 323 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to forget it all. My mother was so young and 
it seems but the other day. 

I would not injure your career for the world. I hope 
that all good will come to you always. 

Probably Mrs. Colwood and I shall go abroad for a 
little while. I want to be alone and it will be easiest 
so. Indeed, if possible, we shall leave London to-mor- 
row night. Good-bye. 

DIANA. 

She rose, and stood looking down upon the letter. A 
thought struck her. Would he take the sentence giv- 
ing the probable time of her departure as an invitation 
to him to come and meet her at the station? as show- 
ing a hope that he might yet persist and prevail? 

She stooped impetuously to rewrite the letter. In- 
stead, her tears fell on it. Sobbing, she put it up she 
pressed it to her lips. If he did come might they not 
press hands? look into each other's eyes? just 
once, once more? 

An hour later the home was in a bustle of packing 
and housekeeping .arrangements. Muriel Colwood, 
with a small set face and lips, and eyes that would 
this time have scorned to cry, was writing notes and 
giving directions. Meanwhile, Diana had written to 
Mrs. Roughsedge, and, instead of answering the letter, 
the recipient appeared in person, breathless with the 
haste she had made, the grey curls displaced. 

Diana told her story, her slender fingers quivering in 
the large motherly hand whose grasp soothed her, her 
eyes avoiding the tender dismay and pity writ large on 
[ 324 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the old face beside her; and at the end she said, with 
an effort : 

' Perhaps you have all expected me to be engaged to 
Mr. Marsham. He did propose to me but I have 
refused him/ 

She faltered a little as she told her first falsehood, 
but she told it. 

'My dear!' cried Mrs. Roughsedge, 'he can't he 
won't accept that ! If he ever cared for you, he will 
care for you tenfold more now!' 

' It was I,' said Diana, hurriedly ' I have done it. 
And, please, I would rather it were now all forgotten. 
Nobody else need know, need they, that he proposed?' 

She stroked her friend's hand piteously. Mrs. Rough- 
sedge, foreseeing the storm of gossip that would be 
sweeping in a day or two through the village and the 
neighbourhood, could not command herself to speak. 
Her questions her indignation choked her. 

At the end of the conversation, when Diana had 
described such plans as she had, and the elder lady 
rose to go, she said, faltering : 

'May Hugh come and say good-bye?' 

Diana shrank a moment, and then assented. Mrs. 
Roughsedge folded the girl to her heart, and fairly 
broke down. Diana comforted her; but it seemed as 
if her own tears were now dry. When they were part- 
ing, she called her friend back a moment. 

'I think,' she said, steadily, 'it would be best now 
that everybody here should know what my name was, 
and who I am. Will you tell the Vicar, and anybody 
else you think of ? I shall come back to live here. I 
know everybody will be kind - ' Her voice died away. 
[ 325 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The March sun had set and the lamps were lit when 
Hugh Roughsedge entered the drawing-room where 
Diana sat writing letters, paying bills, absorbing her- 
self in all the details of departure. The meeting be- 
tween them was short. Diana was embarrassed, above 
all, by the tumult of suppressed feeling she divined 
in Roughsedge. For the first time she must perforce 
recognise what hitherto she had preferred not to see : 
what now she was determined not to know. The young 
soldier, on his side, was stifled by his own emotions - 
wrath contempt pity ; and by a maddening de- 
sire to wrap this pale stricken creature in his arms, 
and so protect her from an abominable world. But 
something told him to his despair that she had 
been in Marsham's arms ; had given her heart irrevoc- 
ably ; and that, Marsham's wife or no, all was done and 
over for him, Hugh Roughsedge. 

Yet surely in time in time! That was the inner 
clamour of the mind, as he bid her good-bye, after 
twenty minutes' disjointed talk, in which, finally, 
neither dared to go beyond commonplace. Only at 
the last, as he held her hand, he asked her : 

'I may write to you from Nigeria?' 

Rather shyly, she assented ; adding, with a smile : 

'But I am a bad letter- writer!' 

' You are an angel ! ' he said, hoarsely, lifted her hand, 
kissed it, and rushed away. 

She was shaken by the scene, and had hardly com- 
posed herself again to a weary grappling with busi- 
ness when the front-door bell rang once more, and the 
butler appeared. 'Mr. La very wishes to know, Miss, 
if you will see him/ 

[ 326 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The Vicar! Diana's heart sank. Must she? But 
some deep instinct some yearning interfered, 
and she bade him be admitted. 

Then she stood waiting, dreading some onslaught 
on the secrets of her mind and heart some pre- 
sumption in the name of religion. The tall form en- 
tered, in the close-buttoned coat, the gaunt oblong of 
the face poked forward, between the large protruding 
ears, the spectacled eyes blinking. 

'May I come in? I will only keep you a few min- 
utes/ 

She came forward and gave him her hand. The door 
shut behind him. 

'Won't you sit down?' 

' I think not. You must be very busy. I only came 
to say a few words. Miss Mallory !' 

He still held her hand. Diana trembled, and looked 
up. 

' I fear you may have thought me harsh. I blame 
myself in many respects. Will you forgive me? Mrs. 
Roughsedge has told me what you wished her to tell 
me. Before you go, will you still let me give you Christ's 
message?' 

The tears rushed back to Diana's eyes; she looked 
at him silently. 

'"Blessed are they that mourn,"' he said, gently, 
with a tender dignity, ' " for they shall be comforted ! " 

Their eyes met. From the man's face and manner 
everything had dropped but the passion of Christian 
charity, mingled with a touch of remorse as though, 
in what had been revealed to him, the servant had 
realised some mysterious rebuke of his Lord. 
[ 327 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Remember that!' he went on. 'Your mourning 
is your blessing. God's love will come to you through 
it and the sense of fellowship with Christ. Don't 
cast it from you don't put it away.' 

'I know,' she said, brokenly. 'It is agony, but it 
is sacred.' 

His eyes grew dim. She withdrew her hand, and 
they talked a little about her journey. 

'But you will come back,' he said to her, presently, 
with earnestness; 'your friends here will think it an 
honour and a privilege to welcome you.' 

' Oh yes, I shall come back. Unless I have some 
friends in London East London. Perhaps I might 
work there.' 

He shook his head. ' No, you are not strong enough. 
Come back here. There is God's work to be done in 
this village, Miss Mallory. Come and put your hand 
to it. But not yet not yet.' 

Then her weariness told him that he had said enough 
and he went. 

Late that night Diana tore herself from Muriel 
Colwood, went alone to her room, and locked her door. 
Then she drew back the curtains, and gazed once more 
on the same line of hills she had seen rise out of the 
wintry mists on Christmas morning. The moon was 
still behind the down, and a few stars showed among 
the clouds. 

She turned away, unlocked a drawer, and, falling 
upon her knees by the bed, she spread out before 
her the fragile and time-stained paper that held her 
mother's last words to her. 

f 328 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

MY LITTLE DIANA my precious child, It may 
be it will be years before this reaches you. I 
have made your father promise to let you grow up 
without any knowledge or reminder of me. It was 
difficult, but at last he promised. Yet there must 
come a time when it will hurt you to think of your 
mother. When it does listen, my darling. Your 
father knows that I loved him always ! He knows 
and he has forgiven. He knows too what I did and 
how so does Sir James. There is no place, no par- 
don for me on earth but you may still love me, 
Diana still love me and pray for me. Oh, my 
little one ! they brought you in to kiss me a little 
while ago and you looked at me with your blue 
deep eyes and then you kissed me so softly a 
little strangely with your cool lips and now I 
have made the nurse lift me up that I may write. A 
few days perhaps even a few hours will bring 
me rest. I long for it. And yet it is sweet to be with 
your father, and to hear your little feet on the stairs. 
But most sweet, perhaps, because it must end so soon. 
Death makes these days possible, and for that I bless 
and welcome death. I seem to be slipping away on 
the great stream so gently tired only your 
father's hand. Good-bye my precious Diana 
your dying and very weary 

MOTHER. 

The words sank into Diana's young heart. They 

dulled the smart of her crushed love; they awakened 

a sense of those forces ineffable and majestic, terrible 

and yet 'to be entreated/ which hold and stamp the 

[ 329 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

human life. Oliver had forsaken her. His kiss was 
still on her lips. Yet he had forsaken her. She must 
stand alone. Only in the spirit she put out cling- 
ing hands; she drew her mother to her breast; she 
smiled into her father's eyes. One with them ; and so 
one with all who suffer! She offered her life to those 
great Forces ; to the hidden Will. And thus, after three 
days of torture, agony passed into a trance of ecstasy 
of aspiration. 

But these were the exaltations of night and silence. 
With the returning day, Diana was again the mere 
girl, struggling with misery and nervous shock. In 
the middle of the morning arrived a special messenger 
with a letter from Marsham. It contained arguments 
and protestations which in the living mouth might 
have had some power. That the living mouth was not 
there to make them was a fact more eloquent than any 
letter. For the first time Diana was conscious of im- 
patience, of a natural indignation. She merely asked 
the messenger to say that 'there was no answer/ 

Yet, as they crossed London her heart fluttered 
within her. One moment her eyes were at the window 
scanning the bustle of the streets ; the next she would 
force herself to talk and smile with Muriel Colwood. 

Mrs. Colwood insisted on dinner at the Charing 
Cross Hotel. Diana submitted. Afterwards they made 
their way, along the departure platform, to the Dover- 
Calais train. They took their seats. Muriel Colwood 
knew felt it indeed through every nerve that the 
girl with her was still watching, still hoping, still strain- 
ing each bodily perception in a listening expectancy. 
[ 330 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The train was very full, and the platform crowded 
with friends, luggage, and officials. Upon the tumult 
the great electric lamps threw their cold ugly light. 
The roar and whistling of the trains filled the vast sta- 
tion. Diana, meanwhile, sat motionless in her corner, 
looking out, one hand propping her face. 

But no one came. The signal was given for depart- 
ure. The train glided out. Diana's head slipped back 
and her eyes closed. Muriel, stifling her tears, dared 
not approach her. 

Northward and eastward from Dover Harbour, 
sweep beyond sweep, rose the white cliffs that are to 
the arriving and departing Englishman the symbols 
of his country. 

Diana, on deck, wrapt in veil and cloak, watched 
them disappear, in mists already touched by the 
moonrise. Six months before she had seen them for 
the first time, had fed her eyes upon the 'dear, dear 
land/ as cliffs and fields and houses flashed upon the 
sight, yearning toward it with the passion of a daugh- 
ter and an exile. 

In those six months she had lived out the first chap- 
ter of her youth. She stood between two shores of life, 
like the vessel from which she gazed ; vanishing lights 
and shapes behind her ; darkness in front. 

4 Where lies the land to which the ship must go? 
Far, far ahead is all the seamen know!' 



PART III 



'Love's eye is not so true as all men's: no, 
How can it ? O how can Love's eye be true 
That is so vexed with watching and with tears ? ' 



CHAPTER XV 

LONDON was in full season. But it was a cold May, 
and both the town and its inhabitants wore a grey and 
pinched aspect. Under the east wind an unsavoury dust 
blew along Piccadilly ; the ladies were still in furs; the 
trees were venturing out reluctantly, showing many 
a young leaf bitten by night frosts; the Park had 
but a scanty crowd ; and the drapers, oppressed with 
summer goods, saw their muslins and gauzes in the 
windows give up their freshness for naught. 

Nevertheless, the ferment of political and social life 
had seldom been greater. A Royal wedding in the near 
future was supposed to account for the vigour of Lon- 
don's social pulse; the streets, indeed, were already 
putting up poles and decorations. And a general elec- 
tion, expected in the autumn, if not before, accounted 
for the vivacity of the clubs, the heat of the newspap- 
ers, and the energy of the House of Commons, where 
all-night sittings were lightly risked by the Govern- 
ment and recklessly challenged by the Opposition. 
Everybody was playing to the gallery i. e., the 
country. Old members were wooing their constituen- 
cies afresh; young candidates were spending feverish 
energies on new hazards, and anxiously inquiring at 
what particular date in the campaign tea-parties be- 
came unlawful. Great issues were at stake; for old 
parties were breaking up under the pressure of new 
interests and passions; within the Liberal party the 
[ 335 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

bubbling of new faiths was at its crudest and hottest ; 
and those who stood by the slow and safe ripening of 
Freedom, from ' precedent to precedent/ were in much 
anxiety as to what shape or shapes might ultimately 
emerge from a brew so strong and heady. Which only 
means that now, as always, Whigs and Radicals were 
at odds ; and the 'unauthorised programme* of the day 
was sending its fiery cross through the towns and the 
industrial districts of the North. 

A debate of some importance was going on in the 
House of Commons. The Tory Government had 
brought in a Land Bill, intended, no doubt, rather as 
bait for electors than practical politics. It was timid 
and ill-drafted, and the Opposition, in days when there 
were still some chances in debate, joyously meant to 
kill it, either by frontal attack or by obstruction. But, 
in the opinion of the Left Wing of the party, the chief 
weapon of its killing should be the promise of a much 
larger and more revolutionary measure from the Lib- 
eral side. The powerful Right Wing, however, largely 
represented on the front bench, held that you could no 
more make farmers than saints by Act of Parliament, 
and that only by slow and indirect methods could the 
people be drawn back to the land. There was, in fact, 
little difference between them and the front bench 
opposite, except a difference in method ; only the Whig 
brains were the keener ; and in John Ferrier the Right 
Wing had a personality and an oratorical gift which 
the whole Tory party admired and envied. 

There had been a party meeting on the subject of 
the Bill, and Ferrier and the front bench had, on the 
whole, carried the indorsement of their policy. But 
[ 336 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

there was an active and discontented minority, full of 
rebellious projects for the general election. 

On this particular afternoon Ferrier had been deal- 
ing with the Government Bill on the lines laid down by 
the meeting at Grenville House. His large pale face 
(the face of a student rather than a politician), with its 
small eyes and overhanging brows; the straight hair 
and massive head ; the heavy figure closely buttoned 
in the familiar frock-coat ; the gesture easy, animated, 
still young on these well-known aspects a crowded 
House had bent its undivided attention. Then Ferrier 
sat down; a bore rose; and out flowed the escaping 
tide to the lobbies and the Terrace. 

Marsham found himself on the Terrace, amongst 
a group of malcontents : Barton, grim and unkempt, 
prophet-eyes blazing, mouth contemptuous; the 
Scotchman McEwart, who had been one of the New 
Year's visitors to Tallyn, tall, wiry, red-haired, the 
embodiment of all things shrewd and efficient; and 
two or three more. A young London member was hold- 
ing forth, masking what was really a passion of disgust 
in a slangy nonchalance. 

'What's the good of turning these fellows out - 
will anybody tell me? if that's all Ferrier can do for 
us? Think I prefer 'em to that kind of mush ! As for 
Barton, I've had to hold him down by the coat-tails !' 

Barton allowed the slightest glint of a smile to show 
itself for an instant. The speaker Roland Lankes- 
ter was one of his few weaknesses. But the frown 
returned. He strolled along with his hands in his 
pockets and his eyes on the ground ; his silence was 
the silence of one in whom the fire was hot. 
[ 337 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MA^LORY 

'Most disappointing all through !' said McEwart, 
with emphasis. ' The facts wrongly chosen the argu- 
ment absurd. It'll take all the heart out of our fellows 
in the country/ 

Marsham looked up. 

'Well, it is n't for want of pressure. Ferrier 's life 
has n't been worth living this last month.' 

The tone was ambiguous. It fitted either with 
defence or indictment. 

The London Member Roland Lankester, who was 
a friend of Marion Vincent, and of Frobisher, repre- 
sented an East End constituency, and lived there - 
looked at the speaker with a* laugh. 

'That's perfectly true. What have we all been do- 
ing but "gingering" Ferrier for the last six months? 
And here's the result! No earthly good in wearing 
one's self to fiddlestrings over this election ! I shall 
go and keep pigs in Canada !' 

The group strolled along the Terrace, leaving behind 
them an animated crowd, all busy with the same sub- 
ject. In the middle of it they passed Ferrier himself - 
flushed with the puffy eyes of a man who never gets 
more than a quarter allowance of sleep; his aspect, 
nevertheless, smiling and defiant, and a crowd of 
friends round him. The wind blew chill up the river, 
crisping the incoming tide; and the few ladies who 
were being entertained at tea drew their furs about 
them, shivering. 

' He '11 have to go to the Lords ! that 's flat if we 
win this election. If we come back, the new members 
will never stand him ; and if we don't well, I suppose, 
in that case, he does as well as anybody else,' 
[ 338 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The remarks were McEwart's. 

Lankester turned a sarcastic eye upon him. 

'Don't you be unjust, my boy. Ferrier's one of 
the smartest Parliamentary hands England has ever 
turned out.' 

At this Barton roused. 

'What's the good of that?' he asked, with quiet 
ferocity, in his strong Lancashire accent. ' What does 
Ferrier's smartness matter to us? The Labour men 
are sick of it ! All he's asked to do is to run straight! 
as the party wants him to run.' 

' All right. Ad leones ! Ferrier to the Lords. I 'm 
agreeable. Only I don't know what Marsham will say 
to it.' 

Lankester pushed back a very shabby pot-hat to a 
still more rakish angle, buttoning up an equally shabby 
coat the while against the east wind. He was a tall, 
fair-haired fellow, half a Dane in race and aspect: 
broad-shouldered, loose-limbed, with a Franciscan 
passion for poverty and the poor. But a certain hum- 
orous tolerance for all sorts and conditions of men, 
together with certain spiritual gifts, made him friends 
in all camps. Bishops consulted him, the Socialists 
claimed him; perhaps it was the East End children 
who possessed him most wholly. Nevertheless, there 
was a fierce strain in him ; he could be a fanatic, even 
a hard fanatic, on occasion. 

Marsham did not show much readiness to take up 
the reference to himself. As he walked beside the 
others, his slender elegance, his handsome head, and 
fashionable clothes marked him out from the rugged 
force of Barton, the middle-class alertness of McEwart, 
[ 339 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the rubbed apostolicity of Lankester. But the face 
was fretful and worried. 

'Ferrier has not the smallest intention of going to 
the Lords !' he said, at last not without a touch of 
impatience. 

'That's the party's affair.' 

' The party owes him a deal too much to insist upon 
anything against his will.' 

'Does it! does it!' said Lankester. 'Ferrier al- 
ways reminds me of a cat we possessed at home, who 
brought forth many kittens. She loved them dearly, 
and licked them all over tenderly all day. But 
by the end of the second day they were always dead. 
Somehow she had killed them all. That's what Ferrier 
does with all our little Radical measures loves 'em 
all and kills 'em all.' 

McEwart flushed. 

'Well, it's no good talking,' he said, doggedly; 
'we've done enough of that! There will be a meeting 
of the Forward Club next week, and we shall decide on 
our line of action.' 

' Broadstone will never throw him over.' Lankester 
threw another glance at Marsham. ' You'll only waste 
your breath.' 

Lord Broadstone was the veteran leader of the 
party, who in the event of victory at the polls would 
undoubtedly be Prime Minister. 

' He can take Foreign Affairs, and go to the Lords in 
a blaze of glory,' said McEwart. ' But he 's impossible ! 
- as leader in the Commons. The party wants grit - 
not dialectic.' 

Marsham still said nothing. The others fell to dis- 
[ 340 ] 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

cussing the situation in much detail, gradually elabor- 
ating what were, in truth, the first outlines of a serious 
campaign against Ferrier's leadership. Marsham list- 
ened, but took no active part in it. It was plain, how- 
ever, that none of the group felt himself in any way 
checked by Marsham's presence or silence. 

Presently Marsham the debate in the House hav- 
ing fallen to levels of dulness 'measureless to man' - 
remembered that his mother had expressed a wish that 
he might come home to dinner. He left the House, 
lengthening his walk for exercise, by way of Whitehall 
and Piccadilly. His expression was still worried and 
preoccupied. Mechanically he stopped to look into a 
picture-dealer's shop, still open, somewhere about the 
middle of Piccadilly. A picture he saw there made him 
start. It was a drawing of the chestnut woods of Val- 
lombrosa, in the first flush and glitter of spring, with 
a corner of one of the monastic buildings, now used 
as an hotel. 

She was there. At an official crush the night before 
he had heard Chide say to Lady Niton that Miss Mai- 
lory had written to him from Vallombrosa, and was 
hoping to stay there till the end of June. So that she 
was sitting, walking, reading, among those woods. In 
what mood? with what courage? In any case, she 
was alone ; fighting her grief alone ; looking forward to 
the future alone. Except, of course, for Mrs. Colwood 
nice, devoted little thing ! 

He moved on, consumed with regrets and discom- 
fort. During the two months which had elapsed since 
Diana had left England, he had, in his own opinion, 
gone through a good deal. He was pursued by the mem- 
[ 341 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ory of that wretched afternoon when he had debated 
with himself whether he should not, after all, go and 
intercept her at Charing Cross, plead his mother's age 
and frail health, implore her to give him time; not to 
break off all relations; to revert, at least, to the old 
friendship. He had actually risen from his seat in the 
House of Commons half an hour before the starting of 
the train; had made his way to the Central Lobby, 
torn by indecision ; and had there been pounced upon 
by an important and fussy constituent. Of course, he 
could have shaken the man off. But just the extra reso- 
lution required to do it had seemed absolutely beyond 
his power, and when next he looked at the clock it was 
too late. He went back to the House, haunted by the 
imagination of a face. She would never have men- 
tioned her route unless she had meant ' Come and say 
good-bye !' unless she had longed for a parting look 
and word. And he coward that he was had 
shirked it had denied her last mute petition. 

Well ! after all might it not simply have made 
matters worse? for her no less than for him? The 
whole thing was his mother's responsibility. He might, 
no doubt, have pushed it all through, regardless of con- 
sequences ; he might have accepted the Juliet Sparling 
heritage, thrown over his career, braved his mother, 
and carried off Diana by storm if, that is, she would 
ever have allowed him to make the sacrifice as soon 
as she fully understood it. But it would have been 
one of the most quixotic things ever done. He had 
made his effort to do it ; and frankly he had not 
been capable of it. He wondered how many men of his 
acquaintance would have been capable of it. 
[ 342 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Nevertheless, he had fallen seriously in his own esti- 
mation. Nor was he unaware that he had lost a certain 
amount of consideration with the world at large. His 
courtship of Diana had been watched by a great many 
people : and at the same moment that it came to an 
end and she left England, the story of her parentage 
had become known in Brookshire. There had been 
a remarkable outburst of public sympathy and pity, 
testifying, no doubt, in a striking way, to the effect 
produced by the girl's personality, even in those few 
months of residence. And the fact that she was not 
there, that only the empty house that she had furn- 
ished with so much girlish pleasure remained to bear 
its mute testimony to her grief, made feeling all the 
hotter. Brookshire beheld her as a charming and in- 
nocent victim, and, not being able to tell her so, found 
relief in blaming and mocking at the man who had 
not stood by her. For it appeared there was to be no 
engagement, although all Brookshire had expected it. 
Instead of it, came the announcement of the tragic 
truth, the girl's hurried departure, and the passionate 
feeling on her behalf of people like the Roughsedges, 
or her quondam critic, the Vicar. 

Marsham, thereupon, had become conscious of a 
wind of unpopularity blowing through his constitu- 
ency. Some of the nice women of the neighbourhood, 
with whom he had been always hitherto a welcome 
and desired guest, had begun to neglect him ; men who 
would never have dreamt of allowing their own sons 
to marry a girl in Diana's position, greeted him with 
a shade less consideration than usual ; and the Liberal 
agent in the division had suddenly ceased to clamour 
[ 343 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

for his attendance and speeches at rural meetings. 
There could be no question that by some means or other 
the story had got abroad no doubt in a most inac- 
curate and unjust form and was doing harm. 

Reflexions of this kind were passing through his 
mind as he crossed Hyde Park Corner on his way to 
Eaton Square. Opposite St. George's Hospital he sud- 
denly became aware of Sir James Chide on the other 
side of the road. At sight of him, Marsham waved his 
hand, quickening his pace that he might come up 
with him. Sir James, seeing him, gave him a perfunct- 
ory greeting, and suddenly turned aside to hail a han- 
som, into which he jumped, and was carried promptly 
out of sight. 

Marsham was conscious of a sudden heat in the 
face. He had never yet been so sharply reminded of a 
changed relation. After Diana's departure he had him- 
self written to Chide, defending his own share in the 
matter, speaking bitterly of the action taken by his 
mother and sister, and lamenting that Diana had not 
been willing to adopt the waiting and temporising 
policy, which alone offered any hope of subduing his 
mother's opposition. Marsham declared persuading 
himself, as he wrote, of the complete truth of the state- 
ment that he had been quite willing to relinquish 
his father's inheritance for Diana's sake, and that it 
was her own action alone that had separated them. Sir 
James had rather coldly acknowledged the letter, 
with the remark that few words were best on a subject 
so painful ; and since then there had been no intimacy 
between the two men. Marsham could only think with 
discomfort of the scene at Felton Park, when a man of 
[ 344 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

passionate nature and romantic heart had allowed him 
access to the most sacred and tragic memories of his 
life. Sir James felt, he supposed, that he had been 
cheated out of his confidence cheated out of his sym- 
pathy. Well ! it was unjust ! 

He reached Eaton Square in good time for dinner, 
and found his mother in the drawing-room. 

'You look tired, Oliver/ she said, as he kissed her. 

' It's the east wind, I suppose beastly day !' 

Lady Lucy surveyed him, as he stood, moody and 
physically chilled, with his back to the fire. 

'Was the debate interesting?' 

' Ferrier made a very disappointing speech. All our 
fellows are getting restive/ 

Lady Lucy looked astonished. 

' Surely they ought to trust his judgement ! He has 
done so splendidly for the party/ 

Marsham shook his head. 

'I wish you would use your influence,' he said, 
slowly. ' There is a regular revolt coming on. A large 
number of men on our side say they won't be led by 
him; that if we come in, he must go to the Lords.' 

Lady Lucy started. 

'Oliver!' she said, indignantly, 'you know it would 
break his heart!' 

And before both minds there rose a vision of Fer- 
rier's future, as he himself certainly conceived it. A 
triumphant election the Liberals in office him- 
self, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and leader of the 
Commons with the reversion of the Premiership 
whenever old Lord Broadstone should die or retire - 
[ 345 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

this indeed had been Ferrier's working understanding 
with his party for years ; years of strenuous labour and 
on the whole of magnificent generalship. Deposition 
from the leadership of the Commons, with whatever 
compensations, could only mean to him, and to the 
world in general, the failure of his career. 

'They would give him Foreign Affairs, of course/ 
said Marsham, after a pause. 

'Nothing that they could give him would make 
up! 7 said Lady Lucy, with energy. 'You certainly, 
Oliver, could not lend yourself to any intrigue of the 
kind/ 

Marsham shrugged his shoulders. 

' My position is not exactly agreeable ! I don't agree 
with Ferrier, and I do agree with the malcontents. 
Moreover, when we come in, they will represent the 
strongest element in the party, with the future in their 
hands/ 

Lady Lucy looked at him with sparkling eyes. 

' You can't desert him, Oliver ! not you ! ' 

'Perhaps I'd better drop out of Parliament!' he 
said, impatiently. ' The game sometimes does n't seem 
worth the candle.' 

Lady Lucy alarmed laid a hand on his. 

' Don't say those things, Oliver. You know you have 
never done so well as this year/ 

'Yes up to two months ago.' 

His mother withdrew her hand. She perfectly un- 
derstood. Oliver often allowed himself allusions of this 
kind, and the relations of mother and son were not 
thereby improved. 

Silence reigned for a few minutes. With a hand that 
[ 346 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

shook slightly, Lady Lucy drew towards her a small 
piece of knitting she had been occupied with when 
Marsham came in, and resumed it. Meanwhile there 
flashed through his mind one of those recollections that 
are only apparently incongruous. He was thinking of 
a dinner-party which his mother had given the night 
before; a vast dinner of twenty people; all well-fed, 
prosperous, moderately distinguished, and in his opin- 
ion, less than moderately amused. The dinner had 
dragged; the guests had left early; and he had come 
back to the drawing-room, after seeing off the last 
of them, stifled with yawns. Waste of food, waste of 
money, waste of time waste of everything ! He had 
suddenly been seized with a passionate sense of the 
dulness of his home life; with a wonder how long he 
could go on submitting to it. And as he recalled these 
feelings as of dust in the mouth there struck 
across them an image from a dream-world. Diana sat 
at the head of the long table ; Diana in white, with her 
slender neck, and the brown eyes, with their dear 
short-sighted look, her smile, and the masses of her 
dark hair. The dull faces on either side faded away ; 
the lights, the flowers were for her for her alone ! 

He roused himself with an effort. His mother was 
putting up her knitting, which, indeed, she had only 
pretended to work at. 

' We must go and dress, Oliver. Oh ! I forgot to tell 
you Alicia arrived an hour ago/ 

' Ah ! ' He raised his eyebrows indifferently. ' I hope 
she's well?' 

' Brilliantly well and as handsome as ever/ 

'Any love-affairs?' 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Several, apparently but nothing suitable/ said 
Lady Lucy, with a smile, as she rose and gathered to- 
gether her possessions. 

'It's time, I think, that Alicia made up her mind. 
She has been out a good while.' 

It gave him a curious pleasure he could hardly 
tell why to say this slighting thing of Alicia. After 
all, he had no evidence that she had done anything un- 
friendly or malicious at the time of the crisis. Instinct- 
ively, he had ranged her then and since as an enemy - 
as a person who had worked against him. But in truth, 
he knew nothing for certain. Perhaps, after the foolish 
passages between them a year ago, it was natural that 
she should dislike and be critical of Diana. As to her 
coming now, it was completely indifferent to him. 
It would be a good thing, no doubt, for his mother to 
have her companionship. 

As he opened the door for Lady Lucy to leave the 
room, he noticed her grey and fragile look. 

' I believe you have had enough of London, mother. 
You ought to be getting abroad.' 

' I am all right,' said Lady Lucy, hastily. ' Like you, 
I hate east winds. Oliver, I have had a charming letter 
from Mr. Heath.' 

Mr. Heath had been for some months Marsham's 
local correspondent on the subject of the new Liberal 
hall in the county town. Lady Lucy had recently sent 
a cheque to the Committee, which had set all their 
building anxieties at rest. 

Oliver looked down rather moodily upon her. 

'It's pretty easy to write charming letters when 
people send you money. It would have been more to 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the purpose, I think, if they had taken a little trouble 
to raise some themselves!' 

Lady Lucy flushed. 

' I don't suppose Dunscombe is a place with many 
rich people in it/ she said, in a voice of protest, as she 
passed him. 

Her thoughts hurt her as she mounted the stairs. 
Oliver had not received her gift for, after all, it was 
a gift to him very graciously. And the same might 
have been said of various other things that she had 
tried to do for him during the preceding months. 

As to Marsham, while he dressed, he too recalled 
other cheques that had been recently paid for him, other 
anxious attempts that had been made to please him. 
Since Diana had vanished from the scene, no complais- 
ance, no liberality had been too much for his mother's 
good -will. He had never been so conscious of an at- 
mosphere of money much money. And there were 
moments what he himself would have described as 
morbid moments when it seemed to him the price 
of blood; when he felt himself to be a mere crude 
moral tale embodied and walking about. Yet how ridi- 
culous ! What reasonable man, knowing what money 
means, and the power of it, but must have flinched a 
little under such a test as had been offered to him? 
His flinching had been nothing final or damnable. It 
was Diana, who, in her ignorance of the world, had 
expected him to take the sacrifice as though it were 
nothing and meant nothing as no honest man of 
the world, in fact, could have taken it. 

When Marsham descended he found Alicia already 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

in possession of the drawing-room. Her gown of a 
brilliant shade of blue put the room out of joint, and 
beside the startling effect of her hair, all the washed- 
out decoration and conventional ornament which it 
contained made a worse effect than usual. There was 
nothing conventional or effaced about Alicia. She had 
become steadily more emphatic, more triumphant, 
more self-confident. 

'Well, what have you been doing with yourself? - 
nothing but politics?' 

The careless, provocative smile with which the 
words were accompanied roused a kind of instant 
antagonism in Marsham. 

'Nothing nothing, at least, worth anybody's 
remembering/ 

' You spoke at Dunscombe last week/ 

'I did/ 

'And you went to help Mr. Collins at the Sheffield 
bye-election/ 

'I did. I am very much flattered that you know so 
much about my movements/ 

'I always know everything that you are doing/ 
said Alicia, quietly 'you, and Cousin Lucy/ 

'You have the advantage of me then' his laugh 
was embarrassed, but not amicable; 'for I am afraid 
I have no idea what you have been doing since 
Easter!' 

' I have been at home, flirting with the Curate,' said 
Alicia, with a laugh. 

As she sat, with her head thrown back against the 
chair, the light sparkling on her white skin, on her 
necklace of yellow topazes, and the jewelled fan in 
[ 350 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her hands, the folds of blue chiffon billowing round 
her, there could be no doubt of her effectiveness. 

Marsham could not help laughing, too. 

' Charming for the Curate ! Did he propose to you? ' 

'Certainly. I think we were engaged for twenty- 
four hours/ 

'That you might see what it was like? Et aprds ?' 

'He was afraid he had mistaken my character/ 

Marsham laughed out. 

'Poor victim! May I ask what you did it for?' 

He found himself looking at her with curiosity 
and a certain anger. To be engaged, even for twenty- 
four hours, means that you allow your betrothed the 
privileges of betrothal. And in the case of Alicia no 
man was likely to forego them. She was really a little 
too unscrupulous ! 

'What I did it for? He was so nice and good -look- 
ing!' 

'And there was nobody else?' 

'Nobody. Home was a desert.' 

'H'm!' said Marsham. 'Is he broken-hearted?' 

Alicia shrugged her shoulders a little. 

' I don't think so. I write him such charming letters. 
It is all simmering down beautifully.' 

Marsham moved restlessly to and fro, first putting 
down a lamp, then fidgeting with an evening paper. 
Alicia never failed to stir in him the instinct of sex, in 
its combative and critical form ; and hostile as he be- 
lieved he was to her, her advent had certainly shaken 
him out of his depression. 

She meanwhile watched him with her teasing eyes, 
apparently enjoying his disapproval. 
[ 351 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I know exactly what you are thinking/ she said, 
presently. 

'I doubt it.' 

'Heartless coquette!' she said, mimicking his voice. 
'Never mind her turn will come presently!' 

'You don't allow my thoughts much originality.' 

'Why should I? Confess! you did think that?' 

Her small white teeth flashed in the smile she gave 
him. There was an exuberance of life and spirits about 
her that was rather disarming. But he did not mean 
to be disarmed. 

'I did not think anything of the kind,' he said, re- 
turning to the fire and looking down upon her ; ' sim- 
ply because I know you too well.' 

Alicia reddened a little. It was one of her attrac- 
tions that she flushed so easily. 

'Because you know me too well?' she repeated. 
' Let me see. That means that you don't believe my 
turn will ever come?' 

Marsham smiled. 

'Your turn for what?' he said, dryly. 

' I think we are getting mixed up ! ' Her laugh was 
as musical as he remembered it. 'Let's begin again. 
Ah ! here comes Cousin Lucy!' 

Lady Lucy entered, ushering in an elderly relation, 
a Miss Falloden, dwelling also in Eaton Square ; a com- 
fortable lady with a comfortable income ; a social stop- 
per of chinks, moreover, kind and talkative ; who was 
always welcome on occasions when life was not too 
strenuous or the company too critical. Marsham 
offered her his arm, and the little party made its way 
to the dining-room. 

[ 352 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Do you go back to the House, Oliver, to-night?' 
asked his mother, as the entree went round. 

He replied in the affirmative, and resumed his con- 
versation with Alicia. She was teasing him on the sub- 
ject of some of his Labour friends in the House of Com- 
mons. It appeared that she had made the Curate, who 
was a Christian Socialist, take her to a Labour Confer- 
ence at Bristol, where all the leaders were present, 
and her account of the proceedings and the types was 
both amusing and malicious. It was the first time 
that Marsham had known her attempt any conversa- 
tion of the kind, and he recognised that her clever- 
ness was developing. But many of the remarks she 
made on persons well known to him annoyed him ex- 
tremely, and he could not help trying to punish her for 
them. Alicia, however, was not easily punished. She 
evaded him with a mosquito-like quickness, return- 
ing to the charge as soon as he imagined himself to 
have scored with an irrelevance or an absurdity which 
would have been exasperating in a man, but had some- 
how to be answered and politely handled from a wo- 
man. He lost his footing continually ; and as she had 
none to lose, she had, on the whole, the best of it. 

Then in the very midst of it he remembered, 
with a pang, another skirmish, another battle of words 
- with another adversary, in a different scene. The 
thrill of that moment in the Tallyn drawing-room, 
when he had felt himself Diana's conqueror; delight- 
ing in her rosy surrender, which was the mere sweet 
admission of a girl's limitations; and in its implied 
appeal, timid and yet proud, to a victor who was also 
a friend all this he was conscious of, by association, 
[ 353 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

while the sparring with Alicia still went on. His tongue 
moved under the stimulus of hers; but in the back- 
ground of the mind rose the images and sensations of 
the past. 

Lady Lucy, meanwhile, looked on, well pleased. 
She had not seen Oliver so cheerful, or so much inclined 
to talk, since 'that unfortunate affair,' and she was 
proportionately grateful to Alicia. 

Marsham returned to the drawing-room with the 
ladies, declaring that he must be off in twenty minutes. 
Alicia settled herself in a corner of the sofa, and played 
with Lady Lucy's dog. Marsham endeavoured, for a 
little, to do his duty by Miss Falloden ; but in a few 
minutes he had drifted back to Alicia. This time she 
made him talk of Parliament, and the two or three 
measures in which he was particularly interested. She 
showed, indeed, a rather astonishing acquaintance 
with the details of those measures, and the thought 
crossed Marsham's mind : ' Has she been getting them 
up? and why?' But the idea did not make the 
conversation she offered him any the less pleasant. 
Quite the contrary. The mixture of teasing and de- 
ference which she showed him, in the course of it, had 
been the secret of her old hold upon him. She reas- 
serted something of it now, and he was not unwilling. 
During the morose and taciturn phase through which 
he had been passing there had been no opportunity or 
desire to talk of himself, especially to a woman. But 
Alicia had always made him talk of himself, and he 
had forgotten how agreeable it might be. 

He threw himself down beside her, and the time 
passed. Lady Lucy and Miss Falloden had retired into 
[ 354 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the back drawing-room, where the one knitted and the 
other gossiped. But as the clock struck a quarter to 
eleven Lady Lucy called, in some astonishment : ' So 
you are not going back to the House, Oliver?' 

He sprang to his feet. 

' Heavens !' He looked at the clock, irresolute. ' Well, 
there's nothing much on, mother. I don't think I 
need/ 

And he subsided again into his chair beside Alicia. 

Miss Falloden looked at Lady Lucy with a meaning 
smile. 

'I did n't know they were such friends!' she said, 
under her breath. 

Lady Lucy made no reply. But her eyes travelled 
through the archway dividing the two rooms to the 
distant figures framed within it Alicia, upright in 
her corner, the red gold of her hair shining against the 
background of a white azalea ; Oliver, deep in his arm- 
chair, his long legs crossed, his hands gesticulating. 

Lady Niton's sarcasms recurred to her. She was not 
sure whether she welcomed or disliked the idea. But, 
after all, why not? 



CHAPTER XVI 

Ecco, Signorina! il Convento!' 

The driver reined up his horse, pointing with his 
whip. 

Diana and Muriel Colwood stood up eagerly in the 
carriage, and there at the end of the long white road, 
blazing on the mountain-side, terrace upon terrace, 
arch upon arch, rose the majestic pile of buildings 
which bears the name of Saint Francis. Nothing else 
from this point was to be seen of Assisi. The sun, de- 
scending over the mountain of Orvieto, flooded the 
building itself with a level and blinding light, while 
upon Monte Subasio behind, a vast thunder-cloud, 
towering in the southern sky, threw storm-shadows, 
darkly purple, across the mountain-side, and from 
their bosom the monastery, the churches, and those 
huge substructures which make the platform on which 
the convent stands, shone out in startling splendour. 

The travellers gazed their fill, and the carriage clat- 
tered on. 

As they neared the town and began to climb the hill 
Diana looked round her at the plain through which 
they had come, at the mountains to the east, at the 
dome of the Portiuncula. Under the rushing light and 
shade of the storm-clouds, the blues of the hills, the 
young green of the vines, the silver of the olives, rose 
and faded, as it were, in waves of colour, impetuous 
and magnificent. Only the great golden building, 
[ 356 ] 






I 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

crowned by its double church, most famous of all the 
shrines of Italy, glowed steadily, amid the alternating 
gleam and gloom fit guardian of that still living 
and burning memory which is Saint Francis. 

'We shall be happy here, shan't we?' said Diana, 
stealing a hand into her companion's. ' And we need n't 
hurry away/ 

She drew a long breath. Muriel looked at her ten- 
derly enchanted whenever the old enthusiasm, the 
old buoyancy reappeared. They had now been in Italy 
for nearly two months. Muriel knew that for her com- 
panion the time had passed in one long wrestle for 
a new moral and spiritual standing-ground. All the 
glory of Italy had passed before the girl's troubled 
eyes as something beautiful but incoherent, a dream 
landscape, on which only now and then her full con- 
sciousness laid hold. For to the intenser feeling of 
youth, full reality belongs only to the world within ; 
the world where the heart loves and suffers. Diana's 
true life was there ; and she did not even admit the 
loyal and gentle woman who had taken a sister's place 
beside her to a knowledge of its ebb and flow. She 
bore herself cheerfully and simply; went to picture- 
galleries and churches ; sketched and read making 
no parade either of sorrow or of endurance. But the 
impression on Mrs. Colwood all the time was of a des- 
perately struggling soul voyaging strange seas of grief 
alone. She sometimes though rarely talked with 
Muriel of her mother's case; she would sometimes 
bring her friend a letter of her father's, or a fragment 
of journal from that full and tragic store which the 
solicitors had now placed in her hands; generally es- 
[ 357 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

caping afterward from all comment ; only able to bear 
a look, a pressure of the hand. But, as a rule, she kept 
her pain out of sight. In the long dumb debate with 
herself she had grown thin and pale. There was no- 
thing, however, to be done, nothing to be said. The 
devoted friend could only watch and wait. Mean- 
while, of Oliver Marsham not a word was ever spoken 
between them. 

The travellers climbed the hill as the sun sank 
behind the mountains, made for the Subasio Hotel, 
found letters, and ordered rooms. 

Amongst her letters, Diana opened one from Sir 
James Chide. 'The House will be up on Thursday 
for the recess, and at last I have persuaded Ferrier to 
let me carry him off. He is looking worn out, and, as 
I tell him, will break down before the election unless 
he takes a holiday now. So he comes protesting. 
We shall probably join you somewhere in Umbria 
at Perugia or Assisi. If I don't find you at one or the 
other, I shall write to Siena, where you said you meant 
to be by the first week in June. And, by the way, I 
should n't wonder if Bobbie Forbes were with us. He 
amuses Ferrier, who is very fond of him. But, of course, 
you need n't see anything of him unless you like/ 

The letter was passed on to Muriel, who thought she 
perceived that the news it contained seemed to make 
Diana shrink into herself. She was much attached to 
Sir James Chide, and had evidently felt pleasure in the 
expectation of his coming out to join them. But Mr. 
Ferrier and Bobbie Forbes both of them asso- 
ciated with the Marshams and Tallyn? Mrs. Colwood 
[ 358 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

noticed the look of effort in the girl's delicate face, and 
wished that Sir James had been inspired to come alone. 

After unpacking, there still remained half an hour 
before dark. They hurried out for a first look at the 
double church. 

The evening was cold and the wind chill. Spring 
comes tardily to the high mountain town, and a light 
powdering of snow still lay on the topmost slope of 
Monte Subasio. Before going into the church they 
turned up the street that leads to the Duomo and the 
temple of Minerva. Assisi seemed deserted a city 
of ghosts. Not a soul in the street, not a light in the 
windows. On either hand, houses built of a marvellous 
red stone or marble, which seemed still to hold and 
radiate the tempestuous light which had but just 
faded from them; the houses of a small provincial 
aristocracy, immemorially old like the families which 
still possessed them; close-paned, rough-hewn, and 
poor yet showing here and there a doorway, a bal- 
cony, a shrine, touched with divine beauty. 

'Where are all the people gone to?' cried Muriel, 
looking at the secret rose-coloured walls, now with- 
drawing into the dusk, and at the empty street. ' Not 
a soul anywhere!' 

Presently they came to an open doorway above 
it an inscription ' Biblioteca dei Studii Francis- 
cam/ Everything stood open to the passer-by. They 
went in timidly, groped their way to the marble stairs, 
and mounted. All void and tenantless! At the top 
of the stairs was a library with dim bookcases and 
marble floors and busts; but no custode no reader 
- not a sound ! 

[ 359 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'We seem to be all alone here with Saint Fran- 
cis!' said Diana, softly, as they descended to the 
street 'or is everybody at church?' 

They turned their steps back to the Lower Church. 
As they went in, darkness darkness sudden and 
profound engulfed them. They groped their way along 
the outer vestibule or transept, finding themselves 
amid a slowly moving crowd of peasants. The crowd 
turned ; they with it ; and a blaze of light burst upon 
them. 

Before them was the nave of the Lower Church, 
with its dark-storied chapels on either hand, itself 
bathed in a golden twilight, with figures of peasants 
and friars walking in it, vaguely transfigured. But 
the sanctuary beyond, the altar, the walls, and low- 
groined roof flamed and burned. An exposition of the 
Sacrament was going on. Hundreds of slender candles 
arranged upon and about the altar in a blazing pyramid 
drew from the habitual darkness in which they hide 
themselves Giotto's thrice famous frescoes; or quick- 
ened on the walls, like flowers gleaming in the dawn, 
the loveliness of quiet faces, angel and saint and 
mother, the beauty of draped folds at their simplest 
and broadest, a fairy magic of wings and trumpets, 
of halos and crowns. 

Now the two strangers understood why they had 
found Assisi itself deserted; emptied of its folk this 
quiet eve. Assisi was here, in the church which is at 
once the home and daily spectacle of her people. Why 
stay away among the dull streets and small houses of 
the hillside, when there were these pleasures of eye 
and ear, this sensuous medley of light and colour, this 
[ 360 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

fellowship and society, this dramatic symbolism and 
movement, waiting for them below, in the church of 
their fathers? 

So that all were here, old and young, children and 
youths, fathers just home from their work, mothers 
with their babies, girls with their sweethearts. Their 
happy yet reverent familiarity with the old church, 
their gay and natural participation in the ceremony 
that was going on, made on Diana's alien mind the 
effect of a great multitude crowding to salute their 
King. There, in the midst, surrounded by kneeling 
acolytes and bending priests, shone the Mystic Pre- 
sence. Each man and woman and child, as they passed 
out of the shadow into the light, bent the knee, then 
parted to either side, each to his own place, like 
courtiers well used to the ways of a beautiful and 
familiar pageantry. 

An old peasant in a blouse noticed the English 
ladies, beckoned to them, and with a kind of gracious 
authority led them through dark chapels, till he had 
placed them in the open space that spread round the 
flaming altar, and found them seats on the stone ledge 
that girdles the walls. An old woman saying her beads 
looked up smiling and made room. A baby of two ran 
out over the worn marble flags, gazed up at the gilt- 
and-silver angels hovering among the candles of the 
altar, and was there softly captured wide-eyed, 
and laughing in a quiet ecstasy by its watchful 
mother. 

Diana sat down, bewildered by the sheer beauty 
of a marvellous and incomparable sight. Above her 
head shone the Giotto frescoes, the immortal four, in 
[ 361 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

which the noblest legend of Catholicism finds its love- 
liest expression, as it were the script, itself imperish- 
able, of a dying language, to which mankind will soon 
have lost the key. 

Yet only dying, perhaps, as the tongue of Cicero died 
to give birth to the new languages of Europe. 

For in Diana's heart this new language of the spirit 
which is the child of the old was already strong, speak- 
ing through the vague feelings and emotions which 
held her spellbound. What matter the garment of 
dogma and story? the raiment of pleaded fact, 
which for the modern is no fact? In Diana, as in hun- 
dreds and thousands of her fellows, it had become 
unconsciously without the torment and struggle of 
an older generation Poetry and Idea; and all the 
more invincible thereby. 

Above her head, Poverty, gaunt and terrible in her 
white robe, her skirt torn with brambles, and her poor 
cheek defaced by the great iron hook which formerly 
upheld the Sanctuary lamp, married with Saint Fran- 
cis Christ himself joining their hands. 

So Love and Sorrow pledged each other in the 
gleaming colour of the roof. Divine Love spoke from 
the altar, and in the crypt beneath their feet which 
held the tomb of the Poverello the ashes of Love slept. 

The girl's desolate heart melted within her. In these 
weeks of groping, religion had not meant much to her. 
It had been like a bird-voice which night silences. All 
the energy of her life had gone into endurance. But 
now it was as though her soul plunged into the fresh- 
ness of vast waters, which upheld and sustained 
without effort. Amid the shadows and phantasms of 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the church between the faces on the walls and the 
kneeling peasants, both equally significant and alive 
those ghosts of her own heart that moved with her per- 
petually in the life of memory stood, or knelt, or gazed, 
with the rest: the piteous figure of her mother; her 
father's grey hair and faltering step; Oliver's tall 
youth. Never would she escape them any more ; they 
were to be the comrades of her life, for Nature had 
given her no powers of forgetting. But here, in the 
shrine of Saint Francis, it was as though the worst 
smart of her anguish dropped from her. From the 
dark splendour, the storied beauty of the church, 
voices of compassion and of peace spoke to her pain ; 
the waves of feeling bore her on, unresisting; she 
closed her eyes against the lights, holding back the 
tears. Life seemed suspended, and suffering ceased. 

'So we have tracked you!' whispered a voice in her 
ear. 

She looked up, startled. Three English travellers 
had quietly made their way to the back of the altar. 
Sir James Chide stood beside her ; and behind him the 
substantial form of Mr. Ferrier, with the merry snub- 
nosed face of Bobbie Forbes smiling over the great 
man's shoulder. 

Diana smiling back put a finger to her lip ; the 
service was at its height, and close as they were to 
the altar decorum was necessary. Presently, guided 
by her, they moved softly on to a remoter and darker 
corner. 

'Could n't we escape to the Upper Church?' asked 
Chide of Diana. 

[ 363 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She nodded, and led the way. They stole in and out 
of the kneeling groups of the north transept, and were 
soon climbing the stairway that links the two 'churches, 
out of sight and hearing of the multitude below. Here 
there was again pale daylight. Greetings were inter- 
changed, and both Chide and Ferrier studied Diana's 
looks with a friendly anxiety they did their best to 
conceal. Forbes also observed Juliet Sparling's daugh- 
ter hotly curious yet also hotly sympathetic. 
What a story, by Jove ! 

Their footsteps echoed in the vast emptiness of the 
Upper Church. Apparently they had it to them- 
selves. 

' No friars ! ' said Forbes, looking about him. ' That 's 
a blessing, anyway! You can't deny, Miss Mallory, 
that they 're a blot on the landscape. Or have you been 
flattering them up, as all the other ladies do who come 
here?' 

'We have only just arrived. What's wrong with the 
friars?' smiled Diana. 

'Well, we arrived this morning, and I've about 
taken their measure though Ferrier won't allow it. 
But I saw four of them great lazy, loafing fellows, 
Miss Mallory much stronger than you or me 
being dragged up these abominable hills four of 'em 
in one legno with one wretched toast-rack of a 
horse. And not one of them thought of walking. Each 
of them with his brown petticoats, and an umbrella as 
big as himself. Ugh ! I offered to push behind, and 
they glared at me. What do you think Saint Francis 
would have said to them? Kicked them out of that 
legno, pretty quick, I'll bet you!' 
[ 364 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana surveyed the typical young Englishman in- 
dulging a typically Protestant mood. 

'I thought there were only a few old men left/ she 
said, 'and that it was all very sad and poetic?' 

'That used to be so/ said Ferrier, glancing round 
the church, so as to make sure that Chide was safely 
occupied in seeing as much of the Giotto frescoes 
on the walls as the fading light allowed. 'Then the 
Pope won a lawsuit. The convent is now the pro- 
perty of the Holy See, the monastery has been re- 
vived, and the place seems to swarm with young 
monks. However, it is you ladies that ruin them. 
You make pretty speeches to them, and look so charm- 
ingly devout/ 

' There was a fellow at San Damiano this morning/ 
interrupted Bobbie, indignantly; 'awfully good-look- 
ing and the most affected cad I ever beheld. I'd 
like to have been his fag-master at Eton ! I saw him 
making eyes at some American girls as we came in; 
then he came posing and sidling up to us, and gave us 
a little lecture on " Ateismo." Ferrier said nothing 
stood there as meek as a lamb, listening to him 
looking straight at him. I nearly died of laughing 
behind them.' 

'Come here, Bobbie, you reprobate!' cried Chide, 
from a distance. ' Hold your tongue, and bring me the 
guide-book/ 

Bobbie strolled off, laughing. 

' Is it all a sham, then/ said Diana, looking round 
her with a smile and a sigh : ' Saint Francis and 
the "Fioretti" and the "Hymn to the Sun"? Has 
it all ended in lazy monks and hypocrisy?' 
[ 365 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Dante asked himself the same question eighty 
years after Saint Francis' death. Yet here is this divine 
church!* -- Ferrier pointed to the frescoed walls, the 
marvellous roof 'here is immortal art ! and here, 
in your rnind and in mine, after six hundred years, is 
a memory an emotion which, but for Saint 
Francis, had never been ; by which indeed we judge his 
degenerate sons. Is that not achievement enough 
for one child of man?' 

'Six hundred years hence what modern will be as 
much alive as Saint Francis is now?' Diana won- 
dered, as they strolled on. 

He turned a quiet gaze upon her. 

'Darwin? At least I throw it out.' 

' Darwin !' Her voice showed doubt the natural 
demur of her young ignorance and idealism. 

'Why not? What faith was to the thirteenth cent- 
ury, knowledge is to us. Saint Francis rekindled the 
heart of Europe, Darwin has transformed the main 
conceptions of the human mind.' 

In the dark she caught the cheerful patience of the 
small penetrating eyes as they turned upon her. And 
at the same time strangely she became aware of 
a sudden and painful impression ; as though, through 
and behind the patience, she perceived an immense 
fatigue and discouragement an ebbing power of life 
- in the man beside her. 

'Hullo!' said Bobbie Forbes, turning back towards 
them, ' I thought there was no one else here.' 

For suddenly they had become aware of a tapping 
sound on the marble floor, and from the shadows of the 
eastern end there emerged two figures: a woman in 
[ 366 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

front, lame and walking with a stick, and a man be- 
hind. The cold reflected light which filled the western 
half of the church shone full on both faces. Bobbie 
Forbes and Diana exclaimed, simultaneously. Then 
Diana sped along the pavement. 

'Who?' said Chide, rejoining the other two. 

'Frobisher and Miss Vincent/ said Forbes, study- 
ing the newcomers. 

'Miss Vincent!' Chide's voice showed his astonish- 
ment. 'I thought she had been very ill/ 

'So she has/ said Ferrier 'very ill. It is amazing 
to see her here.' 

'And Frobisher?' 

Ferrier made no reply. Chide's expression showed 
perplexity, perhaps a shade of coldness. In him a 
warm Irish heart was joined with great strictness, even 
prudishness of manners, the result of an Irish Catholic 
education of the old type. Young women, in his opin- 
ion, could hardly be too careful, in a calumnious world. 
The modern flouting of old decorums small or great 
- found no supporter in the man who had passion- 
ately defended and absolved Juliet Sparling. 

But he followed the rest to the greeting of the new- 
comers. Diana's hand was in Miss Vincent's, and the 
girl's face was full of joy; Marion Vincent, deathly 
white, her eyes, more amazing, more alive than ever, 
amid the emaciation that surrounded them, greeted 
the party with smiling composure neither embar- 
rassed, nor apologetic appealing to Frobisher now 
and then as to her travelling companion speaking 
of 'our week at Orvieto' - - making, in fact, no secret 
of an arrangement which presently every member of 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the group about her even Sir James Chide ac- 
cepted as simply as it was offered to them. 

As to Frobisher, he was rather silent, but no more 
embarrassed than she. It was evident that he kept an 
anxious watch lest her stick should slip upon the 
marble floor, and presently he insisted in a low voice 
that she should go home and rest. 

'Come back after dinner/ she said to him, in the 
same tone as they emerged on the piazza. 

He nodded, and hurried off by himself. 

'You are at the Subasio?' The speaker turned to 
Diana. 'So am I. I don't dine but shall we meet 
afterwards?' 

'And Mr. Frobisher?' said Diana, timidly. 

' He is staying at the Leone. But I told him to come 
back.' 

After dinner the whole party met in Diana's little 
sitting-room, of which one window looked to the con- 
vent, while the other commanded the plain. And from 
the second, the tenant of the room had access to a 
small terrace, public, indeed, to the rest of the hotel, 
but as there were no other guests the English party 
took possession. 

Bobbie stood beside the terrace-window with Diana, 
gossiping, while Chide and Ferrier paced the terrace 
with their cigars. Neither Miss Vincent nor Frobisher 
had yet appeared, and Muriel Col wood was making tea. 
Bobbie was playing his usual part of the chatterbox, 
while at the same time he was inwardly applying much 
native shrewdness and a boundless curiosity to Diana 
and her affairs. 

Did she know had she any idea that in London 
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. THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

at that moment she was one of the main topics of 
conversation? in fact, the best talked -about young 
woman of the day? that if she were to spend June in 
town which of course she would not do she would 
find herself a succds fou people tumbling over each 
other to invite her, and make a show of her? Every- 
body of his acquaintance was now engaged in retrying 
the Wing murder, since that statement of Chide 's in 
the Times. No one talked of anything else, and the 
new story that was now tacked on to the old had given 
yet another spin to the ball of gossip. 

How had the story got out? Bobbie believed that it 
had been mainly the doing of Lady Niton. At any rate, 
the world understood perfectly that Juliet Sparling's 
innocent and unfortunate daughter had been harshly 
treated by Lady Lucy and deserted by Lady Lucy's 
son. 

Queer fellow, Marsham! rather a fool, too. Why 
the deuce did n't he stick to it? Lady Lucy would 
have come round; he would have gained enormous 
kudos, and lost nothing. Bobbie looked admiringly at 
his companion, vowing to himself that she was worth 
fighting for. But his own heart was proof. For three 
months he had been engaged, sub rosa, to a penniless 
cousin. No one knew, least of all Lady Niton, who, in 
spite of her championship of Diana, would probably be 
furious when she did know. He found himself pining to 
tell Diana ; he would tell her as soon as ever he got an 
opportunity. Odd ! that the effect of having gone 
through a lot yourself should be that other people were 
strongly drawn to unload their troubles upon you. 
Bobbie felt himself a selfish beast ; but all the same his 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Ettie ' and his debts ; the pros and cons of the various 
schemes for his future, in which he had hitherto al- 
lowed Lady Niton to play so queer and tyrannical a 
part all these burnt on his tongue till he could con- 
fide them to Diana. 

Meanwhile the talk strayed to Ferrier and politics - 
dangerous ground ! Yet some secret impulse in Diana 
drew her towards it, and Bobbie's curiosity played up. 
Diana spoke with concern of the great man's pallor and 
fatigue. 'Not to be wondered at,' said Forbes, 'con- 
sidering the tight place he was in, or would soon be in.' 
Diana asked for explanations, acting a part a little ; 
for since her acquaintance with Oliver Marsham she 
had become a diligent reader of newspapers. Bobbie, 
divining her, gave her the latest and most authentic 
gossip of the clubs; as to the various incidents and 
gradations of the now open revolt of the Left Wing; 
the current estimates of Ferrier 's strength in the 
country ; and the prospects of the coming election. 

Presently he even ventured on Marsham 's name, feel- 
ing instinctively that she waited for it. If there was 
any change in the face beside him the May darkness 
concealed it, and Bobbie chattered on. There was no 
doubt that Marsham was in a difficulty. All his sym- 
pathies at least were with the rebels, and their victory 
would be his profit. 

'Yet as every one knows that Marsham is under 
great obligations to Ferrier, for him to join the con- 
spiracy these fellows are hatching does n't look 
pretty.' 

'He won't join it!' said Diana, sharply. 

'Well, a good many people think he's in it already. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Oh, I dare say it 's all rot ! ' the speaker added, hastily ; 
'and, besides, it's not at all certain that Marsham him- 
self will get in next time/ 

' Get in ! ' It was a cry of astonishment passing on 
into constraint. 'I thought Mr. Marsham 's seat was 
absolutely safe/ 

'Not it.' Bobbie began to flounder. 'The fact is 
it 's not safe at all ; it 's uncommonly shaky. He '11 have 
a squeak for it. They're not so sweet on him down 
there as they used to be/ 

Gracious! if she were to ask why! The young 
man was about hastily to change the subject when Sir 
James and his companion came towards them. 

' Can't we tempt you out, Miss Mallory ? ' said Ferrier. 
'There is a marvellous change!' He pointed to the 
plain over which the night was falling. 'When we met 
you in the church it was still winter, or wintry spring. 
Now in two hours the summer 's come !' 

And on Diana's face, as she stepped out to join him, 
struck a buffet of warm air ; a heavy scent of narcissus 
rose from the flower-boxes on the terrace ; and from 
a garden far below came the sharp thin prelude of a 
nightingale. 

For about half an hour the young girl and the vet- 
eran of politics walked up and down sounding each 
other heart reaching out to heart dumbly be- 
hind the veil of words. There was a secret link between 
them. The politician was bruised and weary well 
aware that just as Fortune seemed to have brought one 
of her topmost prizes within his grasp, forces and 
events were gathering in silence to contest it with him. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Ferrier had been twenty-seven years in the House of 
Commons; his chief life was there, had always been 
there; outside that maimed and customary pleasure he 
found, beside a woman now white-haired. To rule - 
to lead that House had been the ambition of his life. 
He had earned it ; had scorned delights for it ; and his 
powers were at their ripest. 

Yet the intrigue, as he knew, was already launched 
that might, at the last moment, sweep him from his 
goal. Most of the men concerned in it he either held 
for honest fanatics or despised as flatterers of the mob 
- ignobly pliant. He could and would fight them all 
with good courage and fair hope of victory. 

But Lucy Marsham's son ! that defection, realised 
or threatened, was beginning now to hit him hard. 
Amid all their disagreements of the past year his pride 
had always refused to believe that Marsham could ulti- 
mately make common cause with the party dissenters. 
Ferrier had hardly been able to bring himself, indeed, 
to take the disagreements seriously. There was a secret 
impatience, perhaps even a secret arrogance, in his 
feeling. A young man whom he had watched from 
his babyhood, had put into Parliament, and led and 
trained there ! that he should take this hostile 
and harassing line, with threat of worse, was a matter 
too sore and intimate to be talked about. He did not 
mean to talk about it. To Lady Lucy he never spoke 
of Oliver's opinions, except in a half-jesting way ; to 
other people he did not speak of them at all. Ferrier's 
affections were deep and silent. He had not found it 
possible to love the mother without loving the son - 
had played, indeed, a father's part to him since Henry 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marsham's death. He knew the brilliant, flawed, un- 
stable, attractive fellow through and through. But his 
knowledge left him still vulnerable. He thought little 
of Oliver's political capacity ; and, for all his affection, 
had no great admiration for his character. Yet Oliver 
had power to cause him pain of a kind that no other of 
his Parliamentary associates possessed. 

The letters of that morning had brought him news of 
an important meeting in Marsham's constituency, in 
which his leadership had been for the first time openly 
and vehemently attacked. Marsham had not been pre- 
sent at the meeting, and Lady Lucy had written, 
eagerly declaring that he could not have prevented it 
and had no responsibility. But could the thing have 
been done within his own borders without, at least, a 
tacit connivance on his part? 

The incident had awakened a peculiarly strong feel- 
ing in the elder man, because during the early days of 
the recess he had written a series of letters to Mar- 
sham on the disputed matters that were dividing the 
party; letters intended not only to recall Marsham's 
own allegiance, but through him to reach two of 
the leading dissidents Lankester and Barton in 
particular, for whom he felt a strong personal respect 
and regard. 

These letters were now a cause of anxiety to him. 
His procedure in writing them had been, of course, 
entirely correct. It is the business of a party leader to 
persuade. But he had warned Oliver from the begin- 
ning that only portions of them could or should be 
used in the informal negotiations they were meant to 
help. 

[ 373 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Ferrier had always been incorrigibly frank in his 
talk or correspondence with Marsham, ever since the 
days when as an Oxford undergraduate, bent on shin- 
ing at the Union, Oliver had first shown an interest in 
politics, and had found in Ferrier, already in the front 
rank, the most stimulating of teachers. These re- 
markable letters accordingly contained a good deal of 
the caustic or humorous discussion of Parliamentary 
personalities, in which Ferrier Ferrier at his ease - 
excelled; and many passages, besides, in connexion 
with the measures desired by the Left Wing of the 
party, steeped in the political pessimism, whimsical or 
serious, in which Ferrier showed perhaps his most 
characteristic side at moments of leisure or inti- 
macy; while the moods expressed in outbreaks of 
the kind had little or no effect on his pugnacity as 
a debater or his skill as a party strategist, in face of 
the enemy. 

But, by George ! if they were indiscreetly shown, or 
repeated, some of those things might blow up the 
party. Ferrier uncomfortably remembered one or two 
instances during the preceding year, in which it had 
occurred to him as the merest fleeting impression - 
that Oliver had repeated a saying or had twisted an 
opinion of his unfairly puzzling instances, in which, 
had it been any one else, Ferrier would have seen the 
desire to snatch a personal advantage at his, Ferrier's, 
expense. But how entertain such a notion in the case 
of Oliver! Ridiculous! 

He would write no more letters, however. With the 
news of the Dunscombe meeting the relations between 
himself and Oliver entered upon a new phase. Towards 
[ 374 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Lucy's son he must bear himself politically 
henceforward, not as the intimate confiding friend or 
foster-father, but as the statesman with greater inter- 
ests than his own to protect. 

This seemed to him clear ; yet the effort to adjust 
his mind to the new conditions gave him deep and 
positive pain. 

But what, after all, were his grievances compared 
with those of this soft-eyed girl? It pricked his con- 
science to remember how feebly he had fought her 
battle. She must know that he had done little or 
nothing for her; yet there was something peculiarly 
gentle, one might have thought pitiful, in her manner 
towards him. His pride winced under it. 

Sir James, too, must have his private talk with 
Diana when he took her to the further extremity of 
the little terrace, and told her of the results and echoes 
which had followed the publication, in the Times, of 
Wing's dying statement. 

Diana had given her sanction to the publication 
with trembling and a torn mind. Justice to her mother 
required it. There she had no doubt; and her will 
therefore hardened to the act, and to the publicity 
which it involved. But Sir Francis Wing's son was 
still living, and what for her was piety must be for him 
stain and dishonour. She did not shrink; but the com- 
punctions she could not show she felt ; and, through Sir 
James Chide, she had written a little letter which had 
done something to soften the blow, as it affected a dull 
yet not inequitable mind. 

'Does he forgive us?' she asked, in a low voice, 
[ 375 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

turning her face towards the Umbrian plain, with its 
twinkling lights below, its stars above. 

' He knows he must have done the same in our place/ 
said Sir James. 

After a minute he looked at her closely under the 
electric light which dominated the terrace. 

' I am afraid you have been going through a great 
deal,' he said, bending over her. 'Put it from you 
when you can. You don't know how people feel for 
you/ 

She looked up with her quick smile. 

' I don't always think of it and oh ! I am so thank- 
ful to know! I dream of them often my father and 
mother but not unhappily. They are mine 
much, much more than they ever were/ 

She clasped her hands, and he felt rather than saw 
the exaltation, the tender fire in her look. 

All very well ! But this stage would pass must 
pass. She had her own life to live. And if one man had 
behaved like a selfish coward, all the more reason 
to invoke, to hurry on the worthy and the perfect 
lover. 

Presently Marion Vincent appeared, and with her 
Frobisher, and an unknown man with a magnificent 
brow, dark eyes of a remarkable vivacity, and a 
Southern eloquence both of speech and gesture. He 
proved to be a famous Italian, a poet well known to 
European fame, who, having married an English wife, 
had settled himself at Assisi for the study of Saint Fran- 
cis and the Franciscan literature. He became at once 
the centre of a circle which grouped itself on the ter- 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

race, while he pointed to spot after spot, dimly white 
on the shadows of the moonlit plain, linking each with 
the Franciscan legend and the passion of Franciscan 
poetry. The slopes of San Damiano, the sites of Spello, 
Bevagna, Cannara ; Rivo Torto, the hovering dome of 
the Portiuncula, the desolate uplands that lead to the 
Carceri ; one after another, the scenes and images - 
grotesque or lovely simple or profound of the 
vast Franciscan story rose into life under his touch, 
till they generated in those listening the answer of the 
soul of to-day to the soul of the Poverello. Poverty, 
misery, and crime still they haunt the Umbrian vil- 
lages and the Assisan streets ; the shadows of them as 
the North knows them, lay deep and terrible in Marion 
Vincent's eyes. But as the poet spoke the eternal pro- 
test and battle-cry of Humanity swelled up against 
them overflowed, engulfed them. The hearts of 
some of his listeners burned within them. 

And finally he brought them back to the famous 
legend of the hidden church : deep, deep in the rock - 
below the two churches that we see to-day ; where 
Saint Francis waits standing, with his arms raised 
to heaven, on fire with an eternal hope, an eternal 
ecstasy. 

'Waits for what?' said Ferrier, under his breath, 
forgetting his audience a moment. 'The death of 
Catholicism?' 

Sir James Chide gave an uneasy cough. Ferrier, 
startled, looked round, threw his old friend a gesture of 
apology which Sir James mutely accepted. Then Sir 
James got up and strolled away, his hands in his 
pockets, toward the further end of the terrace. 
[ 377 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The poet meanwhile, ignorant of this little incident, 
and assuming the sympathy of his audience, raised his 
eyebrows, smiling, as he repeated Ferrier's words : 

'The death of Catholicism! No, Signor! its 
second birth/ And with a Southern play of hand and 
feature the nobility of brow and aspect turned now 
on this listener, now on that he began to describe 
the revival of faith in Italy. 

'Ten years ago there was not faith enough in this 
country to make a heresy ! On the one side, a mori- 
bund organisation, poisoned by a dead philosophy; on 
the other, negation, licence, weariness a dumb thirst 
for men knew not what. And now ! if Saint Francis 
were here in every olive garden in each hill town 

on the roads and the by-ways on the mountains 

in the plains his heart would greet the swelling 
of a new tide drawing inward to this land the breath 
of a new spring kindling the buds of life. He would 
hear preached again, in the language of a new day, his 
own religion of love, humility, and poverty. The new 
faith springs from the very heart of Catholicism, 
banned and persecuted as new faiths have always 
been; but every day it lives, it spreads! Knowledge 
and science walk hand in hand with it ; the future is 
before it. It spreads in tales and poems, like the Fran- 
ciscan message ; it penetrates the priesthood ; it passes 
like the risen body of the Lord through the walls of 
seminaries and episcopal palaces; through the bul- 
warks that surround the Vatican itself. Tenderly, yet 
with an absolute courage, it puts aside old abuses, old 
ignorances ! like Saint Francis, it holds out its hand 
to a spiritual bride and the name of that bride is 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Truth ! And in his grave within the rock on tiptoe 
- the Poverello listens the Poverello smiles ! ' 

The poet raised his hand and pointed to the convent 
pile, towering under the moonlight. Diana's eyes filled 
with tears. Sir James had come back to the group, 
his face, with its dignified and strenuous lines, bent - 
half-perplexed, half- frowning on the speaker. And 
the magic of the Umbrian night stole upon each quick- 
ened pulse. 

But presently, when the group had broken up and 
Ferrier was once more strolling beside Diana, he said 
to her : 

'A fine prophecy! But I had a letter this morning 
from another Italian writer. It contains the following 
passage: "The soul of this nation is dead. The old 
enthusiasms are gone. We have the most selfish, the 
most cynical bourgeoisie in Europe. Happy the men of 
1860 ! They had some illusions left religion, mon- 
archy, country. We too have men who would give 
themselves if they could. But to what? No one 
wants them any more nessuno li vuole piu ! " Well, 
there are the two. Which will you believe?' 

'The poet!' said Diana, in a low, faltering voice. 

But it was no cry of triumphant faith. It was the 
typical cry of our generation before the closed door 
that openeth not. 

'That was good,' said Marion Vincent, as the last of 
the party disappeared through the terrace-window, 
and she and Diana were left alone ' but this is better. ' 

She drew Diana towards her, kissed her, and smiled 
at her. But the smile wrung Diana's heart. 
[ 379 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Why have you been so ill? and I never knew!' 

She wrapped a shawl round her friend, and, holding 
her hands, gazed into her face. 

' It was all so hurried there was so little time to 
think or remember. But now there is time/ 

'Now you are going to rest? and get well?' 

Marion smiled again. 

' I shall have holiday for a few months then rest/ 

'You won't live any more in the East End? You'll 
come to me in the country?' said Diana, eagerly. 

' Perhaps ! But I want to see all I can in my holiday 

- before I rest ! All my life I have lived in London. 
There has been nothing to see but squalor. Do you 
know that I have lived next door to a fried-fish shop 
for twelve years? But now think! I am in Italy 

- and we are going to the Alps and we shall stay on 
Lake Como and and there is no end to our plans 

- if only my holiday is long enough/ 

What a ghost face ! and what shining eyes ! 

' Oh, but make it long enough ! ' pleaded Diana, lay- 
ing one of the emaciated hands against her cheek, and 
smitten by a vague terror. 

'That does not depend on me,' said Marion, slowly. 

'Marion,' cried Diana, 'tell me what you mean!' 

Marion hesitated a moment, then said, quietly : 

' Promise, dear, to take it quite simply just as 
I tell it. I am so happy. There was an operation six 
weeks ago. It was quite successful I have no pain. 
The doctors give me seven or eight months. Then my 
enemy will come back and my rest with him/ 

A cry escaped Diana as she buried her face in her 
friend's lap. Marion kissed and comforted her. 
[ 380 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'If you only knew how happy I am!' she said, in a 
low voice. 'Ever since I was a child I seem to have 
fought fought hard for every step every breath. 
I fought for bread first and self-respect for my- 
self then for others. One seemed to be hammering 
at shut gates or climbing precipices with loads that 
dragged one down. Such trouble always!' she mur- 
mured, with closed eyes 'such toil and anguish of 
body and brain ! And now it is all over ! ' - - she raised 
herself joyously ' I am already on the further side. 
I am like Saint Francis waiting. And meanwhile 
I have a dear friend who loves me. I can't let him 
marry me. Pain and disease and mutilation of all 
those horrors, as far as I can, he shall know nothing. 
He shall not nurse me; he shall only love and lead me. 
But I have been thirsting for beautiful things all my 
life and he is giving them to me. I have dreamed 
of Italy since I was a baby, and here I am! I have 
seen Rome and Florence. We go on to Venice. And 
next week there will be mountains and snow-peaks 
- rivers forests flowers - 

Her voice sank and died away. Diana clung to her, 
weeping, in a speechless grief and reverence. At the 
same time her own murdered love cried out within 
her, and in the hot despair of youth she told herself 
that life was as much finished for her as for this tired 
saint this woman of forty who had borne since 
her babyhood the burdens of the poor. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE Whitsuntide recess passed for the wanderers 
in Italy in a glorious prodigality of sun, a rushing 
of bud and leaf to 'feed in air/ a twittering of birds, a 
splendour of warm nights, which for once endorsed the 
traditional rhapsodies of the poets. The little party of 
friends which had met at Assisi moved on together to 
Siena and Perugia, except for Marion Vincent and 
Frobisher. They quietly bade farewell, and went their 
way. 

When Marion kissed Diana at parting, she said, with 
emphasis : 

'Now, remember! you are not to come to Lon- 
don ! You are not to go to work in the East End. I 
forbid it ! You are to go home and look lovely - 
and be happy!' 

Diana's eyes gazed wistfully into hers. 

' I am afraid I had n't thought lately of coming 
to London,' she murmured. ' I suppose I'm a cow- 
ard. And just now I should be no good to anybody/ 

'All right. I don't care for your reasons so long 
as you go home and don't uproot.' 

Marion held her close. She had heard all the girl's 
story, had shown her the most tender sympathy. And 
on this strange wedding journey of hers she knew that 
she carried with her Diana's awed love and yearning 
remembrance. 

But now she was eager to be gone to be alone 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

again with her best friend, in this breathing-space 
that remained to them. 

So Diana saw them off the shabby, handsome 
man, with his lean, proud, sincere face, and the wo- 
man, so frail and white, yet so indomitable. They 
carried various bags and parcels, mostly tied up with 
string, which represented all their luggage ; they trav- 
elled with the peasants, fraternising with them where 
they could ; and it was useless, as Diana saw, to press 
luxuries on either of them. Many heads turned to 
look at them, in the streets or on the railway platform. 
There was something tragic in their aspect; yet not 
a trace of abjectness; nothing that asked for pity. 
When Diana last caught sight of them, Marion had a 
contadino's child on her knee, in the corner of a third- 
class carriage, and Frobisher opposite he spoke a 
fluent Italian was laughing and jesting with the 
father. Marion, smiling, waved her hand, and the train 
bore them away. 

The others moved to Perugia, and the hours they 
spent together in the high and beautiful town were for 
all of them hours of well-being. Diana was the centre 
of the group. In the eyes of the three men her story 
invested her with a peculiar and touching interest. 
Their knowledge of it, and her silent acceptance of 
their knowledge, made a bond between her and them 
which showed itself in a hundred ways. Neither 
Ferrier, nor Chide, nor young Forbes could ever do 
too much for her, or think for her too loyally. And, 
on the other hand, it was her inevitable perception 
of their unspoken thoughts which gave her courage 
[ 383 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

toward them a kind of freedom which it is very 
difficult for women to feel or exercise in the ordinary 
circumstances of life. She gave them each gratefully 

- a bit of her heart, in different ways. 

Bobbie had adopted her as elder sister, having none 
of his own; and by now she knew all about his en- 
gagement, his distaste for the Foreign Office, his lack 
of prospects there, and his determination to change 
it for some less expensive and more remunerative call- 
ing. But Lady Niton was the dragon in the path. She 
had all sorts of ambitious projects for him, none of 
which, according to Forbes, ever came off, there 
being always some better fellow to be had. Diplom- 
acy, in her eyes, was the natural sphere of a young 
man of parts and family, and as for the money, if he 
would only show the smallest signs of getting on, she 
would find it. But in the service of his country Bob- 
bie showed no signs whatever of 'getting on/ He 
hinted uncomfortably, in his conversations with Diana, 
at the long list of his obligations to Lady Niton 
money lent, influence exerted, services of many kinds 

- spread over four or five years, ever since, after a 
chance meeting in a country-house, she had appointed 
herself his earthly providence, and he an orphan 
of good family, with a small income and extravagant 
tastes had weakly accepted her bounties. 

'Now, of course, she insists on my marrying some- 
body with money. As if any chaperon would look at 
me ! Two years ago I did make up to a nice girl a 
real nice girl and only a thousand a year ! no- 
thing so tremendous, after all. But her mother twice 
carried her off, in the middle of a rattling ball, be- 
[ 384 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

cause she had engaged herself to me just like send- 
ing a naughty child to bed ! And the next time the 
mother made me take her down to supper, and ex- 
pounded to me her view of a chaperon's duties : "My 
business, Mr. Forbes" -you should have seen her 
stony eye "is to mar, not to make. The suitable 
marriages make themselves, or are made in heaven. 
I have nothing to do with them, except to keep a fair 
field. The unsuitable marriages have to be prevented, 
and will be prevented. You understand me?" "Per- 
fectly," I said. "I understand perfectly. To mar is 
human, and to make divine? Thank you. Have some 
more jelly? No? Shall I ask for your carriage? Good- 
night." But Lady Niton won't believe a word of it ! 
She thinks I've only to ask and have. She'll be rude 
to Ettie, and I shall have to punch her head meta- 
phorically. And how can you punch a person's head 
when they've lent you money?' 

Diana could only laugh, and commend him to his 
Ettie, who, to judge from her letters, was a girl of 
sense, and might be trusted to get him out of his scrape. 

Meanwhile, Ferrier, the man of affairs, statesman, 
thinker, and pessimist, found in his new friendship 
with Diana at once that 'agrement/ that relaxation, 
which men of his sort can only find in the society of 
those women who, without competing with them, can 
yet by sympathy and native wit make their com- 
panionship abundantly worth while ; and also a means, 
as it were, of vicarious amends, which he very eagerly 
took. 

He was, in fact, ashamed for Lady Lucy; humiliat- 
[ 385 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ed, moreover, by his own small influence with her in 
a vital matter. And both shame and humiliation took 
the form of tender consideration for Lady Lucy's 
victim. 

It did not at all diminish the value of his kindness, 
that most humanly it largely showed itself in 
what many people would have considered egotistical 
confessions to a charming girl. Diana found a constant 
distraction, a constant interest, in listening. Her sol- 
itary life with her scholar father had prepared her for 
such a friend. In the overthrow of love and feeling, 
she bravely tried to pick up the threads of the old in- 
tellectual pleasures. And both Ferrier and Chide, two 
of the ablest men of their generation, were never tired 
of helping her thus to recover herself. Chide was an 
admirable story-teller; and his mere daily life had 
stored him with tales, humorous and grim ; while Fer- 
rier talked history and poetry, as they strolled about 
Siena or Perugia; and, as he sat at night among the 
letters of the day, had a score of interesting or amusing 
comments to make upon the politics of the moment. 
He reserved his 'confessions/ of course, for the t$te- 
d-t&te of country walks. It was then that Diana seemed 
to be holding in her girlish hands something very 
complex and rare; a nature not easily to be under- 
stood by one so much younger. His extraordinary 
gifts, his disinterested temper, his astonishing powers 
of work raised him in her eyes to heroic stature. And 
then some very human weakness, some natural van- 
ity, such as wives love and foster in their husbands, 
but which, in his case, appeared merely forlorn and 
eccentric some deep note of loneliness would 
[ 386 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

touch her heart, and rouse her pity. He talked gen- 
erally with an amazing confidence, not untouched 
perhaps with arrogance, of the political struggle be- 
fore him; believed he should carry the country with 
him, and impose his policy on a divided party. Yet 
again and again, amid the flow of hopeful speculation, 
Diana became aware, as on the first evening of Assisi, 
of some hidden and tragic doubt, both of fate and of 
himself, some deep-rooted weariness, against which 
the energy of his talk seemed to be perpetually re- 
acting and protesting. And the solitariness and mea- 
greness of his life in all its personal and domestic as- 
pects appalled her. She saw him often as a great man 
- a really great man yet starved and shelterless 
amid the storms that were beating up around him. 

The friendship between him and Chide appeared 
to be very close, yet not a little surprising. They 
were old comrades in Parliament, and Chide was in 
the main a whole-hearted supporter of Ferrier's policy 
and views ; resenting in particular, as Diana soon dis- 
covered, Marsham's change of attitude. But the two 
men had hardly anything else in common. Ferrier 
was an enormous reader, most variously accom- 
plished; while his political Whiggery was balanced 
by a restless scepticism in philosophy and religion. 
For the rest he was an ascetic, even in the stream of 
London life ; he cared nothing for most of the ordin- 
ary amusements; he played a vile hand at whist 
(bridge had not yet dawned upon a waiting world) ; 
he drank no wine, and was contentedly ignorant both 
of sport and games. 

Chide, on the other hand, was as innocent of books 
[ 387 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

as Lord Palmerston. All that was necessary for his 
career as a great advocate he could possess himself 
of in the twinkling of an eye ; his natural judgement 
and acuteness were of the first order; his powers of 
eloquence among the most famous of his time ; but it 
is doubtful whether Lady Niton would have found 
him much better informed about the politics of her 
youth than Barton himself ; Sir James, too, was hazy 
about Louis Philippe, and could never remember, in 
the order of Prime Ministers, whether Canning or 
Lord Liverpool came first. With this, he was a sim- 
ple and devout Catholic ; loved on his holiday to serve 
the Mass of some poor priest in a mountain valley ; 
and had more than once been known to carry off some 
lax Catholic junior on his circuit to the performance 
of his Easter duties, willy-nilly by a mixture of 
magnetism and authority. For all games of chance 
he had a perfect passion ; would play whist all night, 
and conduct a case magnificently all day. And al- 
though he was no sportsman in the ordinary sense, 
having had no opportunities in a very penurious 
youth, he had an Irishman's love of horseflesh, and 
knew the Derby winners from the beginning with as 
much accuracy as Macaulay knew the Senior Wrang- 
lers. 

Yet the two men loved, respected, and understood 
each other. Diana wondered secretly, indeed, whether 
Sir James could have explained to her the bond be- 
tween Ferrier and Lady Lucy. That, to her inexperi- 
ence, was a complete mystery! Almost every day 
Ferrier wrote to Tallyn, and twice a week at least, as 
the letters were delivered at table d'hote, Diana could 
[ 388 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

not help seeing the long pointed writing on the thin 
black-edged paper which had once been for her the 
signal of doom. She hardly suspected, indeed, how 
often she herself made the subject of the man's let- 
ters. Ferrier wrote of her persistently to Lady Lucy, 
being determined that so much punishment at least 
should be meted out to that lady; The mistress of 
Tallyn, on her side, never mentioned the name of Miss 
Mallory. All the pages in his letters which concerned 
her might never have been written, and he was well 
aware that not a word of them would ever reach Oliver. 
Diana's pale and saddened beauty; the dignity which 
grief, tragic grief, free from all sordid or ignoble 
elements, can infuse into a personality; the affection 
she inspired, the universal sympathy that was felt for 
her : he dwelt on these things, till Lady Lucy, exas- 
perated, could hardly bring herself to open the en- 
velopes which contained his lucubrations. Could any 
subject, in correspondence with herself, be more un- 
fitting or more futile? and what difference could it 
all possibly make to the girl's shocking antecedents? 

One radiant afternoon, after a long day of sight- 
seeing, Diana and Mrs. Col wood retreated to their 
rooms to write letters and to rest ; Forbes was hotly 
engaged in bargaining for an Umbrian primitif, which 
he had just discovered in an old house in a back street, 
whither, no doubt, the skilful antiquario had that 
morning transported it from his shop ; and Sir James 
had gone out for a stroll, on the splendid road which 
winds gradually down the hill on which Perugia stands, 
to the tomb of the Volumnii, on the edge of the plain, 

389 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and so on to Assisi and Foligno, in the blue dis- 
tance. 

Halfway down he met Ferrier, ascending from the 
tomb. Sir James turned, and they strolled back to- 
gether. The Umbrian landscape girdling the superb 
town showed itself unveiled. Every gash on the torn 
white sides of the eastern Apennines, every tint of 
purple or porcelain-blue on the nearer hills, every 
plane of the smiling valley as it wound southwards, 
lay bathed in a broad and searching light which yet 
was a light of beauty of infinite illusion. 

'I must say I have enjoyed my life/ said Ferrier, 
abruptly, as they paused to look back/ though I don't 
put it altogether in the first class!' 

Sir James raised his eyebrows smiled and did 
not immediately reply. 

'Chide, old fellow/ Ferrier resumed, turning to him, 
'before I left England I signed my will. Do you ob- 
ject that I have named you one of the two executors?' 

Sir James gave him a cordial glance. 

'All right, I'll do my best if need arises. I sup- 
pose, Johnnie, you're a rich man?' 

The name 'Johnnie/ very rarely heard between 
them, went back to early days at the Bar, when Fer- 
rier was for a time in the same chambers with the 
young Irishman who, within three years of being 
called, was making a large income; whereas Ferrier 
had very soon convinced himself that the Bar was 
not for him, nor he for the Bar, and being a man of 
means had 'plumped' for politics. 

'Yes, I'm not badly off/ said Ferrier; 'I'm almost 
the last of my family; and a lot of money has found 
[ 390 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

its way to me first and last. It 's been precious difficult 
to know what to do with it. If Oliver Marsham had 
stuck to that delightful girl I should have left it to 
him/ 

Sir James made a growling sound, more expressive 
than articulate. 

'As it is,' Ferrier resumed, 'I have left half of it to 
my old Oxford college, and half to the University/ 

Chide nodded. Presently a slight flush rose in his 
very clear complexion, and he looked round on his 
companion with sparkling eyes. 

' It is odd that you should have started this subject. 
I too have just signed a new will.' 

'Ah!' Ferrier 's broad countenance showed a very 
human curiosity. 'I believe you are scarcely more 
blessed with kindred than I?' 

'No. In the main I could please myself. I have left 
the bulk of what I had to leave to Miss Mallory.' 

'Excellent!' cried Ferrier. 'She treats you already 
like a daughter.' 

'She is very kind to me,' said Sir James, with a 
touch of ceremony that became him. 'And there is 
no one in whom I feel a deeper interest.' 

'She must be made happy!' exclaimed Ferrier 
'she must! Is there no one besides Oliver?' 

Sir James drew himself up. ' I hope she has put all 
thought of Oliver out of her mind long since. Well ! - 
I had a letter from Lady Felton last week dear 
woman that ! all the love-affairs in the county 
come to roost in her mind. She talks of young Rough- 
sedge. Perhaps you don't know anything of the gen- 
tleman?' 

[ 391 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

He explained, so far as his own knowledge went. 
Ferrier listened attentively. A soldier? Good. Hand- 
some, modest, and capable? better. Had just dis- 
tinguished himself in this Nigerian expedition - 
mentioned in despatches last week. Better still ! - 
so long as he kept clear of the folly of allowing him- 
self to be killed. But as to the feelings of the young 
lady? 

Sir James sighed. ' I sometimes see in her traces of 

of inheritance which make one anxious/ 
Ferrier's astonishment showed itself in mouth and 

eyes. 

'What I mean is/ said Sir James, hastily, 'a dra- 
matic, impassioned way of looking at things. It would 
never do if she were to get any damned nonsense about 
"expiation," or not being free to marry, into her 
head/ 

Ferrier agreed, but a little awkwardly, since the 
'damned nonsense' was Lady Lucy's nonsense, and 
both knew it. 

They walked slowly back to Assisi, first putting their 
elderly heads together a little further on the subject 
of Diana, and then passing on to the politics of the 
moment to the ever present subject of the party 
revolt, and its effect on the election. 

' Pshaw ! let them attack you as they please ! ' said 
Chide, after they had talked a while. 'You are safe 
enough. There is no one else. You are like the hero in 
a novel, "the indispensable."' 

Ferrier laughed. 

'Don't be so sure. There is always a "supplanter" 

when the time is ripe/ 

[ 392 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Where is he? Who is he? ' 

'I had a very curious letter from Lord Philip this 
morning/ said Ferrier, thoughtfully. 

Chide 's expression changed. 

Lord Philip Darcy, a brilliant but quite subordinate 
member of the former Liberal Government, had made 
but occasional appearances in Parliament during the 
five years' rule of the Tories. He was a traveller and 
explorer, and when in England a passionate votary of 
the turf. An incisive tongue, never more amusing than 
when it was engaged in railing at the English work- 
man and democracy in general, a handsome person, 
and a strong leaning to Ritualism these qualities 
and distinctions had not for some time done much to 
advance his Parliamentary position. But during the 
preceding session he had been more regular in his at- 
tendance at the House, and had made a considerable 
impression there as a man of eccentric, but possibly 
great ability. On the whole, he had been a loyal sup- 
porter of Ferrier 's ; but in two or three recent speeches 
there had been signs of coquetting with the extremists. 

Ferrier, having mentioned the letter, relapsed into 
silence. Sir James, with a little contemptuous laugh, 
inquired what the nature of the letter might be. 

'Oh, well, he wants certain pledges/ 

Ferrier drew the letter from his pocket, and handed 
it to his friend. Sir James perused it, and handed it 
back with a sarcastic lip. 

' He imagines you are going to accept that pro- 
gramme?' 

' I don't know. But it is clear that the letter implies 
a threat if I don't/ 

[ 393 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'A threat of desertion? Let him/ 

'That letter was n't written off his own bat. There 
is a good deal behind it. The plot, in fact, is thick- 
ening. From the letters of this morning I see that a 
regular press campaign is beginning/ 

He mentioned two party papers which had already 
gone over to the dissidents one of some importance, 
the other of none. 

'All right/ said Chide; 'so long as the Herald and 
the Flag do their duty. By the way, has n't the Her- 
ald got a new editor?' 

' Yes ; a man called Harrington a friend of Oliver's/ 

'Ah! a good deal sounder on many points than 
Oliver ! ' grumbled Sir James. 

Ferrier did not reply. 

Chide noticed the invariable way in which Mar- 
sham's name dropped between them whenever it was 
introduced in this connexion. 

As they neared the gate of the town they parted, 
Chide returning to the hotel, while Ferrier, the most 
indefatigable of sightseers, hurried off toward San 
Pietro. 

He spent a quiet hour on the Peruginos, deciding, 
however, with himself in the end that they gave him 
but a moderate pleasure ; and then came out again into 
the glow of an incomparable evening. Something in 
the light and splendour of the scene, as he lingered on 
the high terrace, hanging over the plain, looking down 
as though from the battlements, the flagrantia mcenia 
of some celestial city, challenged the whole life and 
virility of the man. 

' Yet what ails me ? ' he thought to himself, curiously, 
[ 394 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and quite without anxiety. 'It is as though I were 

listening for the approach of some person or event 

as though a door were open or about to open ' 

What more natural ? in this pause before the fight ? 
And yet politics seemed to have little to do with it. 
The expectancy seemed to lie deeper, in a region of the 
soul to which none were or ever had been admitted, 
except some friends of his Oxford youth long since 
dead. 

And, suddenly, the contest which lay before him ap- 
peared to him under a new aspect, bathed in a broad 
philosophic air; a light serene and transforming, like 
the light of the Umbrian evening. Was it not possibly 
true that he had no future place as the leader of English 
Liberalism? Forces were welling up in its midst, 
forces of violent and revolutionary change, with which 
it might well be he had no power to cope. He saw him- 
self, in a waking dream, as one of the last defenders of 
a lost position. The day of Utopias was dawning; and 
what has the critical mind to do with Utopias? Yet if 
men desire to attempt them, who shall stay them? 

Barton, McEwart, Lankester with their bound- 
less faith in the power of a few sessions and measures 
to remake this old, old England with their impa- 
tiences, their readiness at any moment to fling some 
wild arrow from the string, amid the crowded long- 
descended growths of English life : he felt a strong 
intellectual contempt both for their optimisms and 
audacities mingled, perhaps, with a certain envy. 

Sadness and despondency returned. His hand 
sought in his pocket for the little volume of Leopard! 
which he had taken out with him. On that king of 
[ 395 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

pessimists, that prince of all despairs, he had just spent 
half an hour among the olives. Could renunciation of 
life and contempt of the human destiny go further? 

Well, Leopardi's case was not his. It was true, what 
he had said to Chide. With all drawbacks, he had en- 
joyed his life, had found it abundantly worth living. 

And, after all, was not Leopardi himself a witness 
to the life he rejected, to the Nature he denounced. 
Ferrier recalled his cry to his brother : ' Love me, Carlo, 
for God's sake ! I need love, love, love ! fire, enthusi- 
asm, life.' 

'Fire, enthusiasm, life.' Does the human lot con- 
tain these things, or no? If it does, have the gods 
mocked us, after all? 

Pondering these great words, Ferrier strolled home- 
ward, while the outpouring of the evening splendour 
died from Perusia Augusta, and the mountains sank 
deeper into the gold and purple of the twilight. 

As for love, he had missed it long ago. But existence 
was still rich, still full of savour, so long as a man's 
will held his grip on men and circumstance. 

All action, he thought, is the climbing of a precipice, 
upheld above infinity by one slender sustaining rope. 
Call it what we like will, faith, ambition, the wish to 
live in the end it fails us all. And in that moment, 
when we begin to imagine how and when it may fail us, 
we hear, across the sea of time, the first phantom toll- 
ing of the funeral bell. 

There were times now when he seemed to feel the 

cold approaching breath of such a moment. But they 

were still invariably succeeded by a passionate recoil 

of life and energy. By the time he reached the hotel 

[ 396 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

he was once more plunged in all the preoccupations, 
the schemes, the pugnacities of the party leader. 

A month later, on an evening toward the end of June, 
Doctor Roughsedge, lying reading in the shade of his 
little garden,' saw his wife approaching. He raised 
himself with alacrity. 

'You've seen her?' 

'Yes/ 

With this monosyllabic answer Mrs. Roughsedge 
seated herself, and slowly untied her bonnet-strings. 

'My dear, you seem discomposed/ 

'I hate men! 1 said Mrs. Roughsedge, vehemently. 

The doctor raised his eyebrows. ' I apologise for my 
existence. But you might go so far as to explain/ 

Mrs. Roughsedge was silent. 

'How is that child?' said the Doctor, abruptly. 
'Come! I am as fond of her as you are/ 

Mrs. Roughsedge raised her handkerchief. 

'That any man with a heart ' she began, in a 
stifled voice. 

'Why you should speculate on anything so ab- 
normal ! ' cried the Doctor, impatiently. ' I suppose 
your remark applies to Oliver Marsham. Is she break- 
ing her own heart? that's all that signifies/ 

'She is extremely well and cheerful/ 

'Well then, what's the matter?' 

Mrs. Roughsedge looked out of the window, twisting 
her handkerchief. 

' Nothing only everything seems done and 
finished/ 

'At twenty-two?' The Doctor laughed. 'And it's 
[ 397 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

not quite four months yet since the poor thing dis- 
covered that her doll was stuffed with sawdust. Really, 
Patricia! 7 

Mrs. Roughsedge slowly shook her head. 

'I suspect what it all means/ said her husband, 'is 
that she did not show as much interest as she ought 
in Hugh's performance/ 

' She was most kind, and asked me endless questions. 
She made me promise to bring her the press-cuttings 
and read her his letters. She could not possibly have 
shown more sympathy/ 

'H'm! Well, I give it up/ 

' Henry ! ' - - his wife turned upon him 'I am con- 
vinced that poor child will never marry ! ' 

'Give her time, my dear, and don't talk nonsense!' 

'It is n't nonsense! I tell you I felt just as I did 
when I went to see Mary Theed, years ago you re- 
member that pretty cousin of mine who became a Car- 
melite nun? for the first time after she had taken 
the veil. She spoke to one from another world it 
gave one the shivers ! and was just as smiling and 
cheerful over it as Diana and it was just as ghastly 
and unbearable and abominable as this is/ 

'Well, then/ said the Doctor, after a pause, 'I sup- 
pose she '11 take to good works. I hope you can provide 
her with a lot of hopeless cases in the village. Did she 
mention Marsham at all?' 

'Not exactly. But she asked about the election ' 

'The writs are out/ interrupted the Doctor. 'I see 
the first borougji elections are fixed for three weeks 
hence ; ours will be one of the last of the counties ; six 
weeks to-day/ 

[ 398 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'I told her you thought he would get in.' 

'Yes by the skin of his teeth. All his real popu- 
larity has vanished like smoke. But there's the 
big estate and his mother's money and the col- 
lieries.' 

'The Vicar tells me the colliers are discontented 
all through the district and there may be a big 
strike - 

' Yes, perhaps, in the autumn, when the three years' 
agreement comes to an end not yet. Marsham's 
vote will run down heavily in the mining villages, but 
it '11 serve this time. They won't put the other man 
in.' 

Mrs. Roughsedge rose to take off her things, remark- 
ing, as she moved away, that Marsham was said to be 
holding meetings nightly already, and that Lady Lucy 
and Miss Drake were both hard at work. 

'Miss Drake?' said the Doctor, looking up. 'Hand- 
some girl ! I saw Marsham in a dog-cart with her yes- 
terday afternoon.' 

Mrs. Roughsedge flushed an angry red, but she said 
nothing. She was encumbered with parcels, and her 
husband rose to open the door for her. He stooped 
and looked into her face. 

'You did n't say anything about that, Patricia, I'll 
be bound ! ' 

Meanwhile, Diana was wandering about the Beech- 
cote garden, with her hands full of roses, just gathered. 
The garden glowed under the westering sun. In the 
field just below it the silvery lines of new-cut hay lay 
hot and fragrant in the quivering light. The woods on 
[ 399 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the hillside were at the richest moment of their new 
life, the earth-forces swelling and rioting through 
every root and branch, wild roses climbing every hedge 
the miracle of summer at its height. 

Diana sat down upon a grass-bank, to look and 
dream. The flowers dropped beside her ; she propped 
her face on her hands. 

The home-coming had been hard. And perhaps the 
element in it she had felt most difficult to bear had 
been the universal sympathy with which she had been 
greeted. It spoke from the faces of the poor the 
men and women, the lads and girls of the village ; with 
their looks of curiosity, sometimes frank, sometimes 
furtive or embarrassed. It was more politely disguised 
in the manners and tones of the gentle -people ; but 
everywhere it was evident ; and sometimes it was be- 
yond her endurance. 

She could not help imagining the talk about her in 
her absence ; the discussion of the case in the country- 
houses or in the village. To the village people, unused 
to the fine discussions which turn on motive and en- 
vironment, and slow to revise an old opinion, she was 
just the daughter 

She covered her eyes one hideous word ringing 
brutally, involuntarily, through her brain. By a kind 
of miserable obsession the talk in the village public- 
houses shaped itself in her mind. 'Aye, they did n't 
hang her because she was a lady. She got off, trust her ! 
But if it had been you or me - 

She rose, trembling, trying to shake off the horror, 
walking vaguely through the garden into the fields, 
as though to escape it. But the horror pursued her, 
[ 400 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

only in different forms. Among the educated people - 
people who liked dissecting 'interesting' or 'mysteri- 
ous' crimes there had been no doubt long discus- 
sions of Sir James Glide's letter to the Times, of Sir 
Francis Wing's confession. But through all the talk, 
rustic or refined, she heard the name of her mother 
bandied ; for ever soiled and dishonoured ; with no right 
to privacy or courtesy any more 'Juliet Sparling' 
to all the world : the loafer at the street corner the 
drunkard in the tavern 

The thought of this vast publicity, this careless or 
cruel scorn of the big world toward one so frail, so 
anguished, so helpless in death clutched Diana 
many times in each day and night. And it led to that 
perpetual image in the mind which we saw haunting 
her in the first hours of her grief, as though she carried 
her dying mother in her arms, passionately clasping 
and protecting her, their faces turned to each other, 
and hidden from all eyes beside. 

Also, it deadened in her the sense of her own case 
in relation to the gossip of the neighbourhood. Os- 
trich-like, she persuaded herself that not many people 
could have known anything about her five days' en- 
gagement. Dear kind folk like the Roughsedges would 
not talk of it, nor Lady Lucy surely. And Oliver him- 
self never ! 

She had reached a point in the field-walk where the 
hillside opened to her right, and the little winding 
path was disclosed which had been to her on that mild 
February evening the path of Paradise. She stood still 
a moment, looking upward, the deep sob of loss rising 
in her throat. 

[ 401 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

But she wrestled with herself, and presently turned 
back to the house, calm and self-possessed. There were 
things to be thankful for. She knew the worst. And 
she felt herself singularly set free from ordinary con- 
ventions and judgements. Nobody could ever quarrel 
with her if, now that she had come back, she lived her 
own life in her own way. Nobody could blame her 
surely most people would approve her if she stood 
aloof from ordinary society, and ordinary gaieties for 
a while, at any rate. Oh ! she would do nothing singu- 
lar or rude. But she was often tired and weak not 
physically, but in mind. Mrs. Roughsedge knew 
and Muriel. 

Dear Hugh Roughsedge ! he was indeed a faithful 
understanding friend. She was proud of his letters ; she 
was proud of his conduct in the short campaign just 
over ; she looked forward to his return in the autumn. 
But he must not cherish foolish thoughts or wishes. 
She would never marry. What Lady Lucy said was 
true. She had probably no right to marry. She stood 
apart. 

But but she must not be asked yet to give her- 
self to any great mission any set task of charity or 
philanthropy. Her poor heart fluttered within her at 
the thought, and she clung gratefully to the recollec- 
tion of Marion's imperious words to her. That exalta- 
tion with which, in February, she had spoken to the 
Vicar of going to the East End to work had dropped - 
quite dropped. 

Of course, there was a child in the village a dear 
child ill and wasting in a spinal jacket, for whom 
one would do anything just anything ! And there 
[ 402 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

was Betty Dyson plucky, cheerful old soul. But 
that was another matter. 

What, she asked, had she to give the poor? She 
wanted guiding and helping and putting in the right 
way herself. She could not preach to any one- 
wrestle with any one. And ought one to make out of 
others' woes plasters for one's own?. To use the poor 
as the means of a spiritual 'cure' seemed a dubious 
indecent thing ; more than a touch in it of arrogance 
or sacrilege. 

Meanwhile she had been fighting her fight in the old 
ways. She had been falling back on her education, 
appealing to books and thought, reminding herself of 
what the life of the mind had been to her father in his 
misery, and of those means of cultivating it to which 
he would certainly have commended her. She was try- 
ing to learn a new foreign language, and, under Marion 
Vincent's urging, the table in her little sitting-room 
was piled with books on social and industrial matters, 
which she diligently read and pondered. 

It was all struggle and effort. But it had brought her 
some reward. And especially through Marion Vin- 
cent's letters, and through the long day with Marion in 
London, which she had now to look back upon. For 
Miss Vincent and Frobisher had returned, and Marion 
was once more in her Stepney rooms. She was appar- 
ently not much worse ; would allow no talk about her- 
self ; and though she had quietly relinquished all her 
old activities, her room was still the centre it had long 
been for the London thinker and reformer. 

Diana found there an infinity to learn. The sages 
[ 403 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and saints, it seemed, are of all sides and all opinions. 
That had not been the lesson of her youth. In a com- 
forting heat of prejudice her father had found relief 
from suffering, and his creeds had been fused with her 
young blood. Lately she had seen their opposites em- 
bodied in a woman from whom she shrank in repulsion 

whose name never passed her lips Oliver's sister 

who had trampled on her in her misery. Yet here, 
in Marion's dingy lodging, she saw the very same ideas 
which Isabel Fotheringham made hateful, clothed in 
light, speaking from the rugged or noble faces of men 
and women who saw in them the salvation of their 
kind. 

The intellect in Diana, the critical instinct resisted. 
And, moreover, to have abandoned any fraction of the 
conservative and traditional beliefs in which she had 
been reared was impossible for her of all women; it 
would have seemed to her that she was thereby leaving 
those two suffering ones, whom only her love sheltered, 
still lonelier in death. So, beneath the clatter of talk 
and opinion, run the deep omnipotent tides of our real 
being. 

But if the mind resisted, the heart felt, and there- 
with, the soul that total personality which absorbs 
and transmutes the contradictions of life grew 
kinder and gentler within her. 

One day, after a discussion on votes for women 
which had taken place beside Marion's sofa, Diana, 
when the talkers were gone, had thrown herself on her 
friend. 

' Dear, you can't wish it ! you can't believe it ! To 
brutalise unsex us ! ' 

[ 404 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marion raised herself on her elbow, and looked down 
the narrow cross-street beneath the windows of her 
lodging. It was a stifling evening. The street was 
strewn with refuse, the odours from it filled the room. 
Ragged children with smeared faces were sitting or 
playing listlessly in the gutters. The public-house at 
the corner was full of animation, and women were 
passing in and out. Through the roar of traffic from 
the main street beyond a nearer sound persisted: a 
note of wailing the wailing of babes. 

'There are the unsexed!' said Marion, panting. 'Is 
their brutalisation the price we pay for our refine- 
ment?' Then, as she sank back: 'Try anything 
everything to change that/ 

Diana pressed the speaker's hand to her lips. 

But from Marion Vincent, the girl's thoughts, as she 
wandered in the summer garden, had passed on to the 
news which Mrs. Roughsedge had brought her. Oliver 
was speaking every night, almost, in the villages round 
Beechcote. Last week he had spoken at Beechcote 
itself. Since Mrs. Roughsedge's visit, Diana had bor- 
rowed the local paper from Brown, and had read two 
of Oliver's speeches therein reported. As she looked up 
to the downs, or caught through the nearer trees the 
lines of distant woods, it was as though the whole scene 
- earth and air were once more haunted for her by . 
Oliver his presence his voice. Beechcote lay on 
the high-road from Tallyn to Dunscombe, the chief 
town of the division. Several times a week, at least, he 
must pass the gate. At any moment they might meet 
face to face. 

[ 405 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The sooner the better ! Unless she abandoned Beech - 
cote, they must learn to meet on the footing of ordin- 
ary acquaintances ; and it were best done quickly. 

Voices on the lawn! Diana, peeping through the 
trees, beheld the Vicar in conversation with Muriel 
Colwood. She turned and fled, pausing at last in the 
deepest covert of the wood, breathless and a little 
ashamed. 

She had seen him once since her return. Everybody 
was so kind to her, the Vicar, the Miss Bertrams 
everybody ; only the pity and the kindness burnt so. 
She wrestled with these feelings in the wood, but she 
none the less kept a thick screen between herself and 
Mr. Lavery. 

She could never forget that night of her misery 
when good man that he was ! he had brought her 
the message of his faith. 

. But the great melting moments of life are rare, and 
the tracts between are full of small frictions. What an 
incredible sermon he had preached on the preceding 
Sunday ! That any minister of the National Church 
representing all sorts and conditions of men 
should think it right to bring his party politics into the 
pulpit in that way ! Unseemly ! unpardonable ! 

Her dark eyes flashed and then clouded. She had 
walked home from the sermon in a heat of wrath, had 
straightway sought out some blue ribbon, and made 
Tory rosettes for herself and her dog. Muriel had 
laughed had been delighted to see her doing it. 

But the rosettes were put away now thrown into 
the bottom of a drawer. She would never wear 
them. 

[ 406 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The Vicar, it seemed, was no friend of Oliver's - 
would not vote for him, and had been trying to induce 
the miners at Hartingfield to run a Labour man. On the 
other hand, she understood that the Ferrier party in 
the division were dissatisfied with him on quite other 
grounds : that they reproached him with a leaning to 
violent and extreme views, and with a far too luke- 
warm support of the leader of the party and the leader's 
policy. The local papers were full of grumbling letters 
to that effect. 

Her brow knit over Oliver's difficulties. The day 
before, Mr. La very, meeting Muriel in the village street, 
had suggested that Miss Mallory might lend him the 
barn for a Socialist meeting a meeting, in fact, for 
the harassing and heckling of Oliver. 

Had he come now to urge the same plea again? A 
woman's politics were not, of course, worth remember- 
ing! 

She moved on to a point where, still hidden, she 
could see the lawn. The Vicar was in full career ; the 
harsh creaking voice came to her from the distance. 
What an awkward, unhandsome figure, with his long, 
lank countenance, his large ears and spectacled eyes ! 
Yet an apostle, she admitted, in his way a whole- 
hearted, single-minded gentleman. But the barn he 
should not have. 

She watched him depart, and then slowly emerged 
from her hiding-place. Muriel, putting loving hands on 
her shoulders, looked at her with eyes that mocked 
a little tenderly. 

'Yes, I know,' said Diana 'I know. I shirked. 
Did he want the barn?' 

[ 407 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Oh no. I convinced him, the other day, you were 
past praying for/ 

'Was he shocked ? " It is a serious thing for women 
to throw themselves across the path of progress," ' said 
Diana, in a queer voice. 

Muriel looked at her, puzzled. Diana reddened, 
and kissed her. 

'What did he want, then?' 

' He came to ask whether you would take the visiting 
of Fetter Lane and a class in Sunday-School.' 

Diana gasped. 'What did you say?' 

'Never mind. He went away quelled.' 

' No doubt he thought I ought to be glad to be set to 
work.' 

' Oh ! they are all masterful that sort.' 

Diana walked on. 

'I suppose he gossiped about the election?' 

'Yes. He has all sorts of stories about the mines 
and the Tallyn estates,' said Muriel, unwillingly. 

Diana's look flashed. 

'Do you believe he has any power of collecting evid- 
ence fairly? I don't. He sees what he wants to see.' 

Mrs. Colwood agreed ; but did not feel called upon 
to confirm Diana's view by illustrations. She kept 
Mr. Lavery's talk to herself. 

Presently, as the evening fell, Diana, sitting under 
the limes, watching the shadows lengthen on the new- 
mown grass, wondered whether she had any mind 
any opinions of her own at all. Her father ; Oliver ; Mr. 
Ferrier; Marion Vincent she saw and felt with 
them all in turn. In the eyes of a Mrs. Fotheringham 
could anything be more despicable? 
[ 408 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The sun was sinking when she stole out of the gar- 
den with some flowers and peaches for Betty Dyson. 
Her frequent visits to Betty's cottage were often the 
bright spots in her day. With her, almost alone among 
the poor people, Diana was conscious of no greedy cu- 
riosity behind the spoken words. Yet Betty was the 
living chronicle of the village, and what she did not 
know about its inhabitants was not worth knowing. 

Diana found her white and suffering as usual, but so 
bubbling with news that she had no patience either 
with her own ailments or with the peaches. Waving 
both aside, she pounced imperiously upon her visit- 
or, her queer yellowish eyes aglow with 'eventful 
living/ 

' Did you hear of old Tom Murthly dropping dead in 
the medder last Thursday?' 

Diana had just heard of the death of the eccentric 
old man who for fifty years bachelor and miser 
had inhabited a dilapidated house in the village. 

'Well, he did. Yo may take it at that yo may/ 
(A mysterious phrase, equivalent, no doubt, to the 
masculine oath.) "Ee 'ad a lot of money Tom 'ad. 
Them two 'ouses was 'is, what stands right be'ind 
Learoyds', down the village.' 

'Who will they go to now, Betty?' 

Betty's round, shapeless countenance, furrowed and 
scarred by time, beamed with the joy of communica- 
tion. 

'Chancery!' she said, nodding. 'Chancery '11 'ave 
'em, in a twelvemonth's time from now, if Mrs. Jack 
Murthly 's Tom young Tom don't claim 'em from 
South Africa and the Lord knows where 'ee is ! ' 
[ 409 ] 



' THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana tried to follow, held captive by a tyrannical 
pair of eyes. 

'And what relation is Mrs. Jack Murthly to the man 
who died?' 

'Brother's wife!' said Betty, sharply. 'I thought 
you'd ha known that/ 

'But if nothing is heard of the son, Betty of 
young Tom Mrs. Murthly 's two daughters will have 
the cottages, won't they?' 

Betty's scorn made her rattle her stick on the 
flagged floor. 

'They ain't daughters! they're only 'alves.' 

'Halves? ' said Diana, bewildered. 

'Jack Murthly worn't their father!' A fresh shower 
of nods. ' Yo may take it at that ! ' 

' Well, then, who ?' 

Betty bent hastily forward Diana had placed her- 
self on a stool before her and, thrusting out her 
wrinkled lips, said, in a hoarse whisper: 

'Two fathers!' 

There was a silence. 

' I don't understand, Betty,' said Diana, softly. 

'Jack was 'is father, all right Tom's in South 
Africa. But he worn't their father, Mrs. Jack bein' a 
widder or said so. They're only 'alves and 'alves 
ain't no good in law ; so inter Chancery those 'ouses '11 
go, come a twelvemonth yo may take it at that ! ' 

Diana laughed a young spontaneous laugh the 
first since she had come home. She kept Betty gossip- 
ing for half an hour, and as the stream of the village life 
poured about her, in Betty's racy speech, it was as 
though some primitive virtue entered into her and 
[ 410 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

cheered her some bracing voice from the Earth- 
spirit whose purpose is not missed. 

' If birth proceeds if things subsist.' 

She rose at last, held Betty's hand tenderly, and 
went her way, conscious of a return of natural pleasure, 
such as Italy had never brought her, her heart opening 
afresh to England and the English life. 

Perhaps she would find at home a letter from Mr. 
Ferrier her dear, famous friend, who never forgot 
her, ignorant as she was of the great affairs in which he 
was plunged. But she meant to be ignorant no longer. 
No more brooding and dreaming ! It was pleasant to 
remember that Sir James Chide had taken a furnished 
house Lytchett Manor only a few miles from 
Beechcote, and that Mr. Ferrier was to be his guest 
there as soon as politics allowed. For her, Diana, 
that was well, for if he were at Tallyn they could have 
met but seldom if at all. 

She had made a round through a distant and seques- 
tered lane in order to prolong her walk. Presently she 
came to a deep cutting in the chalk, where the road, 
embowered in wild roses and clematis, turned sharply 
at the foot of a hill. As she approached the turn she 
heard sounds a man's voice. Her heart suddenly 
failed her. She looked to either side no gate, no es- 
cape. Nothing for it but to go forward. She turned 
the corner. 

Before her was a low pony-carriage which Alicia 

Drake was driving. It was drawn up by the side of 

the road, and Alicia sat in it, laughing and talking, 

while Oliver Marsham gathered a bunch of wild roses 

[ 411 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

from the roadside. As Diana appeared, and before 
either of them saw her, Marsham returned to the car- 
riage, his hands full of flowers 

'Will that content you? I have torn myself to rib- 
bons for you!' 

'Oh, don't expect too much gratitude Oliver!' 
The last word was low and hurried. Alicia gathered up 
the reins hastily, and Marsham looked round him 
startled. 

He saw a tall and slender girl coming toward them, 
accompanied by a Scotch collie. She bowed to him and 
to Alicia, and passed quickly on. 

'Never mind any more roses/ said Alicia. 'We 
ought to get home/ 

They drove toward Tallyn in silence. Alicia's start- 
ling hat of white muslin framed the red gold of her hair 
and the brilliant colour assisted here and thereby 
rouge of her cheeks and lips. She said presently, in 
a sympathetic voice : 

'How sorry one is for her!' 

Marsham made no reply. They passed into the dark- 
ness of overarching trees, and there, veiled from him 
in the green twilight, Alicia no longer checked the 
dancing triumph in her eyes. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

ONE Saturday in early August, some weeks after the 
incident described in the last chapter, Bobbie Forbes, 
in the worst inn's worst fly, such being the stress and 
famine of election-time, drove up to the Tallyn front 
door. It was the day after the polling, and Tallyn, 
with its open windows and empty rooms, had the look 
of a hive from which the bees have swarmed. Accord- 
ing to the butler, only Lady Niton was at home, and 
the household was eagerly awaiting news of the de- 
claration of the poll at Dunscombe Town Hall. Lady 
Niton, indeed, was knitting in the drawing-room. 

'Capital ! to find you alone/ said Bobbie, taking 
a seat beside her. ' All the others at Dunscombe, I hear. 
And no news yet?' 

Lady Niton, who had given him one inky finger 
(a pile of letters just completed lay beside her) 
shook her head, looking him critically up and down 
the while. 

The critical eye, however, was more required in her 
own case. She was untidily dressed, as usual, in a 
shabby black gown ; her brown 'front' was a little dis- 
placed, and her cap awry ; and her fingers had appar- 
ently been badly worsted in a struggle with her pen. 
Yet her diminutive figure in the drawing-room such^ 
is the power of personality made a social place of it 
at once. 

'I obeyed your summons,' Bobbie continued, 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'though I 'm sure Lady Lucy did n't want to invite me 
with all this hubbub going on. Well, what do you pro- 
phesy? They told me at the station that the result 
would be out by two o'clock. I very nearly went to the 
Town Hall, but the fact is everybody 's so nervous I 
funked it. If Oliver 's kicked out, the fewer tears 
over spilt milk the better.' 

'He won't be kicked out.' 

' Don't make too sure ! I have been hearing the most 
dismal reports. The Ferrierites hate him much worse 
than if he 'd gone against them openly. And the fellows 
he really agrees with don't love him much better.' 

'All the same he will get in : and if he don't get office 
now he will in a few years.' 

' Oliver must be flattered that you believe in him so.' 

'I don't believe in him at all,' said Lady Niton, 
sharply. ' Every country has the politicians it deserves. ' 

Bobbie grinned. 

'I don't find you a democrat yet/ 

' I 'm just as much of one as anybody in this house, 
for all their fine talk. Only they pretend to like being 
governed by their plumbers and gas-fitters, and I don't. ' 

' I hear that Oliver's speeches have been extremely 
good/ 

'H'm all about the poor,' said Lady Niton, re- 
leasing her hand from the knitting-needles, and waving 
it scornfully at the room in which they sat. 'Well, if 
Oliver were to tell me from now till doomsday that his 
heart bled for the poor, I should n't believe him. It 
does n't bleed. He is as comfortable in his middle 
region as you or I/ 

Bobbie laughed. 

[ 414 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Now look here, I 'm simply famished for gossip, and 
I must have it/ Lady Niton's ball of wool fell on the 
floor. Bobbie pounced upon it, and put it in his pocket. 
'A hostage! Surrender and talk to me! Do you 
belong to the Mallory faction or don't you?' 

'Give me my ball, -sir and don't dare to mention 
that girl's name in this house/ 

Bobbie opened his eyes. 

' I say ! what did you mean by writing to me like 
that if you were n't on the right side? 7 

'What do you mean?' 

'You can't have gone over to Lady Lucy and the 
Fotheringham woman ! ' 

Lady Niton looked at him with a queer expression 
of contempt in her tanned and crumpled face. 

'Is that the only reason you can imagine for my 
not permitting you to talk of Diana Mallory in this 
house?' 

Bobbie looked puzzled. Then a light broke. 

'I see! You mean the house isn't good enough? 
Precisely! What 'sup. Alicia? No!' 

Lady Niton laughed. 

' He has been practically engaged to her for two 
years. He did n't know it, of course he had n't an 
idea of it. But Alicia knew it. Oh ! she allowed him his 
amusements. The Mallory girl was one of them. If 
the Sparling story had n't broken it off, something else 
would. I don't believe Alicia ever alarmed herself/ 

'Are they engaged?' 

'Not formally. I dare say it won't be announced till 
the autumn,' said his companion, indifferently. Then 
seeing that Bobbie's attention was diverted, she made 
[ 415 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

a dash with one skinny hand at his coat-pocket, ab- 
stracted the ball of wool, and triumphantly returned 
to her knitting. 

'Mean!' said Bobbie. 'You caught me off guard. 
Well, I wish them joy. Of course, I've always liked 
Marsham, and I'm very sorry he's got himself into 
such a mess. But as for Alicia, there 's no love lost be- 
tween us. I hear Miss Mallory's at Beechcote.' 

Lady Niton replied that she had only been three 
days in the house, that she had asked ostentatiously 
- for a carriage the day before to take her to call at 
Beechcote, and had been refused. Everything, it 
seemed, was wanted for election purposes. But she 
understood that Miss Mallory was quite well and not 
breaking her heart at all. At the present moment she 
was the most popular person in Brookshire, and would 
be the most petted, if she would allow it. But she and 
Mrs. Colwood lived a very quiet life, and were never 
to be seen at the tea- and garden-parties in which the 
neighbourhood abounded. 

' Plucky of her to come back here!' said Bobbie. 
'And how's Lady Lucy?' 

Lady Niton moved impatiently. 

' Lucy would be all right if her son would n't join a 
set of traitors in jockeying the man who put him into 
Parliament, and has been Lucy's quasi-husband for 
twenty years!' 

'Oh, you think he is in the plot?' 

' Of course, Lucy swears he is n't. But if not why 

is n't Ferrier here? His own election was over a week 

ago. In the natural course of things he would have 

been staying here since then, and speaking for Oliver. 

[ 416 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Not a word of it ! I 'm glad he 's shown a little spirit at 
last! He's put up with about enough/ 

'And Lady Lucy 's fretting?' 

'She don't like it particularly when he comes to 
stay with Sir James Chide and not at Tallyn. Such 
a thing has never happened before/ , 

'Poor old Ferrier !' said Bobbie, with a shrug of the 
shoulders. 

Lady Niton drew herself up fiercely. 

'Don't pity your betters, sir! It's disrespectful.' 

Bobbie smiled. ' You know the Ministry 's resigned ?' 

'About time ! What have they been hanging on for 
so long?' 

' Well, it 's done at last. I found a wire from tne club 
waiting for me here. The Queen has sent for Broad- 
stone, and the fat's all in the fire/ 

The two fell into an excited discussion of the situa- 
tion. The two rival heroes of the electoral six weeks 
on the Liberal side had been, of course, Ferrier and 
Lord Philip. Lord Philip had conducted an astonish- 
ing campaign in the Midlands, through a series of 
speeches of almost revolutionary violence, containing 
many veiled, or scarcely veiled, attacks on Ferrier. 
Ferrier, on the whole, held the North; but the candi- 
dates in the Midlands had been greatly affected by 
Lord Philip and Lord Philip's speeches, and a conta- 
gious enthusiasm had spread through whole districts, 
carrying in the Liberal candidates with a rush. In the 
West and South, too, where the Darcy family had 
many friends and large estates, the Liberal nominees 
had shown a strong tendency to adopt Lord Philip's 
programme and profess enthusiastic admiration for its 
[ 417 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

author. So that there were now two kings of Brent- 
ford. Lord Philip's fortunes had risen to a threatening 
height, and the whole interest of the Cabinet-making 
just beginning lay in the contest which it inevitably 
implied between Ferrier and his new but formidable 
lieutenant. It was said that Lord Philip had retired 
to his tent alias his Northamptonshire house and 
did not mean to budge thence till he had got all he 
wanted out of the veteran Premier. 

'As for the papers/ said Bobbie, 'you see they're 
already at it hammer and tongs. However, so long as 
the Herald sticks to Ferrier, he has very much the best 
of it. This new editor Barrington is an awfully clever 
fellow/' 

' Barrington ! Barrington ! ' said Lady Niton, look- 
ing up. 'That's the man who's coming to-night.' 

'Coming here? Barrington? Hullo, I wonder 
what 'sup?' 

' He proposed himself, Oliver says ; he 's an old friend . ' 

'They were at Trinity together. But he doesn't 
really care much about Oliver. I'm certain he's not 
coming here for Oliver's beaux yeux, or Lady Lucy's.' 

'What does it matter?' cried Lady Niton, disdain- 
fully. 

'H'm! you think 'em all a poor lot?' 

'Well, when you've. known Dizzy and Peel, Palmer- 
ston and Melbourne, you're not going to stay awake 
nights worriting about John Ferrier. In any other 
house but this I should back Lord Philip. But I like 
to make Oliver uncomfortable.' 

' Upon my word ! I have heard you say that Lord 
Philip's speeches were abominable/ 
[ 418 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'So they are. But he ought to have credit for the 
number of 'em he can turn out in a week/ 

'He'll be heard, in fact, for his much speaking?' 

Bobbie looked at his companion with a smile. Sud- 
denly his cheek flushed. He sat down beside her and 
tried to take her hand. 

' Look here/ he said, with vivacity, ' I think you were 
an awful brick to stick up for Miss Mailory as you did/ 

Lady Niton withdrew her hand. 

'I have n't an idea what you're driving at/ 

'You really thought that Oliver should have given 
up all that money?' 

His companion looked at him rather puzzled. 

'He wouldn't have been a pauper,' she said, dryly; 
'the girl had some/ 

'Oh, but not much. No! you took a dear, un- 
worldly, generous view of it ! a view which has 
encouraged me immensely!' 

'You!' Lady Niton drew back, and drew up, as 
though scenting battle, while her wig and cap slipped 
more astray. 

'Yes me. It's made me think well, that I 
ought to have told you a secret of mine weeks ago/ 

And with a resolute and combative air, Bobbie sud- 
denly unburdened himself of the story of his engage- 
ment to a clergyman's daughter, without a farthing, 
his distant cousin on his mother's side, and quite un- 
known to Lady Niton. 

His listener emitted a few stifled cries asked a 
few furious questions and then sat rigid. 

'Well?' said Bobbie, masking his real anxiety under 
a smiling appearance. 

[ 419 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

With a great effort, Lady Niton composed herself. 
She stretched out a claw and resumed her work, two 
red spots on her cheeks. 

' Marry her, if you like/ she said, with delusive calm. 
' I shan't ever speak to you again. A scheming minx 
without a penny ! that ought never to have been 
allowed out of the school-room/ 

Bobbie leapt from his chair. 

'Is that the way you mean to take it?' 

Lady Niton nodded. 

'That is the way I mean to take it!' 

'What a fool I was to believe your fine speeches 
about Oliver 1 / 

' Oliver may go to the Devil !' cried Lady Niton. 

'Very well!' Bobbie's dignity was tremendous. 
'Then I don't mean to be allowed less liberty than 
Oliver. It's no good continuing this conversation. 
Why, I declare! some fool has been meddling with 
those books!' 

And rapidly crossing the floor, swelling with wrath 
and determination, Bobbie opened the bookcase of 
first editions which stood in this inner drawing-room 
and began to replace some volumes, which had strayed 
from their proper shelves, with a deliberate hand. 

'You resemble Oliver in one thing!' Lady Niton 
threw after him. 

'What may that be?' he said, carelessly. 

'You both find gratitude inconvenient!' 

Bobbie turned and bowed. 'I do!' he said, 'incon- 
venient, and intolerable ! Hullo ! I hear the car- 
riage. I beg you to remark that what I told you was 
confidential. It is not to be repeated in company.' 
[ 420 ] 



, THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Lady Niton had only time to give him a fierce look 
when the door opened, and Lady Lucy came wearily 
in. 

Bobbie hastened to meet her. 

'My dear Lady Lucy ! what news?' 

'Oliver is in!' 

' Hurrah !' Bobbie shook her hand vehemently. ' I 
am glad!' 

Lady Niton, controlling herself with difficulty, rose 
from her seat, and also offered a hand. 

'There, you see, Lucy, you need n't have been so 
anxious.' 

Lady Lucy sank into a chair. 

'What's the majority? 'said Bobbie, astonished by 
her aspect and manner. 'I say, you know, you've 
been working too hard.' 

'The majority is twenty-four,' said Lady Lucy, 
coldly, as though she had rather not have been asked 
the question; and at the same time, leaning heavily 
back in her chair, she began feebly to untie the lace 
strings of her bonnet. Bobbie was shocked by her 
appearance. She had aged rapidly since he had last 
seen her, and, in particular, a grey shadow had over- 
spread the pink-and-white complexion which had so 
long preserved her good looks. 

On hearing the figures (the majority five years be- 
fore had been fifteen hundred), Bobbie could not for- 
bear an exclamation which produced another contrac- 
tion of Lady Lucy's tired brow. Lady Niton gave a 
very audible 'Whew!' --to which she hastened to 
add : 'Well, Lucy, what does it matter? Twenty-four 
is as good as two thousand.' 

[ 421 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Lady Lucy roused herself a little. 

'Of course/ she said, languidly, 'it is disappointing. 
But we may be glad it is no worse. For a little while, 
during the counting, we thought Oliver was out. But 
the last bundles to be counted were all for him, and we 
just saved it/ A pause, and then the speaker added, 
with emphasis : ' It has been a horrid election ! Such 
ill-feeling and violence such unfair placards ! 
some of them, I am sure, were libellous. But I am 
told one can do nothing/ 

'Well, my dear, this is what Democracy comes to,' 
said Lady Niton, taking up her knitting again with 
vehemence. ' " Tu I'as voulu, Georges Dandin." You 
Liberals have opened the gates and now you grum- 
ble at the deluge/ 

' It has been the injustice shown him by his own side 
that Oliver minds/ The speaker's voice betrayed the 
bleeding of the inward wound. ' Really, to hear some 
of our neighbours talk, you would think him a Com- 
munist. And, on the other hand, he and Alicia only 
just escaped being badly hurt this morning at the 
collieries when they were driving round. I im- 
plored them not to go. However, they would. There 
was an ugly crowd, and but for a few mounted po- 
lice that came up, it might have been most unpleas- 
ant/ 

' I suppose Alicia has been careering about with him 
all day?' said Lady Niton. 

'Alicia and Roland Lankester and the chair- 
man of Oliver's committee. Now they've gone off on 
the coach, to drive round some of the villages, and 
thank people/ Lady Lucy rose as she spoke. 
[ 422 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Not much to thank for, according to you!' ob- 
served Lady Niton, grimly. 

' Oh, well, he 's in ! ' Lady Lucy drew a long breath. 
'But people have behaved so extraordinarily! That 
man that clergyman at Beechcote Mr. La very. 
He's been working night and day against Oliver. 
Really, I think parsons ought to leave politics alone.' 

'La very?' said Bobbie. 'I thought he was a Rad- 
ical. Were n't Oliver's speeches advanced enough to 
please him?' 

' He has been denouncing Oliver as a humbug, be- 
cause of what he is pleased to call the state of the min- 
ing villages. I 'm sure they 're a great, great deal better 
than they were twenty years ago ! ' Lady Lucy's voice 
was almost piteous. 'However, he very nearly per- 
suaded the miners to run a candidate of their own, and 
when that fell through, he advised them to abstain 
from voting. And they must have done so in several 
villages. That's pulled down the majority/ 

'Abominable!' said Bobbie, who was comfortably 
conservative. 'I always said that man was a fire- 
brand.' 

'I don't know what he expects to get by it/ said 
Lady Lucy, slowly, as she moved toward the door. 
Her tone was curiously helpless ; she was still stately, 
but it was a ghostly and pallid stateliness. 

'Get by it!' sneered Lady Niton. 'After all,, his 
friends are in. They say he's eloquent. His jackass- 
eries will get him a bishopric in time you'll see/ 

'It was the unkindness the ill-feeling I minded/ 
said Lady Lucy, in a low voice, leaning heavily upon 
her stick, and looking straight before her as though she 
[ 423 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

inwardly recalled some of the incidents of the election. 
'I never knew anything like it before/ 

Lady Niton lifted her eyebrows not finding a suit- 
able response. Did Lucy really not understand what 
was the matter? that her beloved Oliver had earned 
the reputation throughout the division of a man who 
can propose to a charming girl, and then desert her for 
money, at the moment when the tragic blow of her 
life had fallen upon her? and she, that of the mer- 
cenary mother who had forced him into it. Precious 
lucky for Oliver to have got in at all ! 

The door closed on Lady Lucy. 

Forgetting for an instant what had happened before 
her hostess entered, Elizabeth Niton, bristling with 
remarks, turned impetuously toward Forbes. He had 
gone back to first editions, and was whistling vigor- 
ously as he worked. 

With a start, Lady Niton recollected herself. Her 
face reddened afresh ; she rose, walked with as much 
majesty as her stature admitted to the door, which 
she closed sharply behind her. 

As soon as she was gone, Bobbie stopped whistling. 
If she was really going to make a quarrel of it, it would 
certainly be a great bore a hideous bore. His con- 
science pricked him for the mean and unmanly de- 
pendence which had given the capricious and master- 
ful little woman so much to say in his affairs. He must 
really find fresh work, pay his debts, those to Lady 
Niton first and foremost, and marry the girl who would 
make a decent fellow of him. But his heart smote him 
about his queer old Fairy Blackstick. No surrender ! 
but he would like to make peace. 
[ 424 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

It was past eight o'clock when the four-in-hand on 
which the new Member had been touring the constitu- 
ency drove up to the Tallyn door. Forbes hurried to 
the steps to greet the party. 

'Hullo, Oliver! A thousand congratulations, old 
fellow! Never mind the figures. A win's a win! But 
I thought you would have been dining and junketing 
in Dunscombe to-night. How on earth did you get 
them to let you off?' 

Oliver's tired countenance smiled perfunctorily as he 
swung himself down from the coach. He allowed his 
hand to be shaken ; his lips moved, but only a husky 
whisper emerged. 

'Lost his voice,' Roland Lankester explained. 'And 
so done that we begged him off from the Dunscombe 
dinner. He's only fit for bed/ 

And with a wave of the hand to the company, Mar- 
sham, weary and worn, mounted the steps, and, pass- 
ing rapidly through 'the hall, went upstairs. Alicia 
Drake and Lankester followed, pausing in the hall to 
talk with Bobbie. 

Alicia too looked tired out. She was dressed in a 
marvellous gown of white chiffon, adorned with a large 
rosette of Marsham's colours red-and-yellow and 
wore a hat entirely composed of red and yellow roses. 
The colours were not becoming to her, and she had no 
air of happy triumph. Rather, both in her and in 
Marsham there were strong signs of suppressed cha- 
grin and indignation. 

' Well, that's over !' said Miss Drake, throwing down 
her gloves on the billiard -table with a fierce gesture; 
' and I 'm sure neither Oliver nor I would go through it 
[ 425 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

again for a million of money. How revolting the lower 
classes are!' 

Lankester looked at her curiously. 

'You've worked awfully hard/ he said. 'I hope 
you're going to have a good rest.' 

' I would n't bother about rest if I could pay out 
some of the people here,' said Alicia, passionately. 'I 
should like to see a few score of them hanged in chains, 
pour encourager les autres.' 

So saying, she gathered up her gloves and parasol, 
and swept upstairs, declaring that she was too dog- 
tired to talk. 

Bobbie Forbes and Lankester looked at each other. 

' It's been really a beastly business ! ' said Lankester 
under his breath. 'Precious little politics in it, too, 
as far as I could see. The strong Ferrierites no doubt 
have held aloof on the score of Marsham's supposed 
disloyalty to the great man ; though, as far as I can 
make out, he has been careful not to go beyond a 
certain line in his speeches. Anyway, they have 
done no work, and a good many of them have cer- 
tainly abstained from voting. It is our vote that 
has gone down; the Tories have scarcely increased 
theirs at all. But the other side and the Social- 
ists got hold of a lot of nasty little things about 
the estate and the collieries. The collieries are prac- 
tically in rebellion, spoiling for a big strike next 
November, if not before. When Miss Drake and Mar- 
sham drove round there this morning they were very 
badly received. Her parasol was broken by a stone, 
and there was a good deal of mud-throwing.' 

Bobbie eyed his companion. 
[ 426 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Was any of the Opposition personal to her? 1 

Lankester nodded. 'There's an extraordinary feel- 
ing all over the place for - 

' Of course there is ! ' said Bobbie, hotly. ' Marsham 
is n't such a fool as not to know that. Why did he let 
this aggressive young woman take such a prominent 
part?' 

Lankester shrugged his shoulders, but did not pursue 
the subject. The two men went upstairs, and Lankes- 
ter parted from his companion with the remark : 

' I must say I hope Marsham won't press for any- 
thing in the Government. I don't believe he '11 ever get 
in for this place again.' 

Forbes shook his head. 

' Marsham 's got a lot of devil in him somewhere. I 
should n't wonder if this made him set his teeth.' 

Lankester opened the door of the ugly yet luxurious 
room which had been assigned him. He looked round 
it with fresh distaste, resenting its unnecessary size and 
its pretentious decoration, resenting also the very care- 
ful valeting which had evidently been bestowed on his 
shabby clothes and personal appointments, as though 
the magnificent young footman who looked after him 
had been doing his painful best with impossible ma- 
terials. 

'Why, the idiots have shut the windows!' 

He strode vehemently across the floor, only to find 
the park outside, as he hung across the sill, even less to 
his liking than the room within. 

Then, throwing himself into a chair, tired out with 
the canvassing, speaking, and multifarious business of 
[ 427 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the preceding days, he fell to wondering what on earth 
had made him after the fatigues of his own election 
come down to help Marsham with his. There were 
scores of men in the House he liked a great deal better, 
and requests for help had been showered upon him. 

He had, no doubt, been anxious, as a keen member 
of the advanced group, that Marsham should finally 
commit himself to the programme of the Left Wing, 
with which he had been so long coquetting. Oliver had 
a considerable position in the House, and was, more- 
over, a rich man. Rich men had not, so far, been com- 
mon in the advanced section of the party. Lankester, 
in whom the idealist and the wire-puller were shrewdly 
mixed, was well aware that the reforms he desired 
could only be got by extensive organisation; and he 
knew precisely what the money -cost of getting them 
would be. Rich men, therefore, were the indispensable 
tools of his ideas ; and among his own group he, who 
had never possessed a farthing of his own apart from 
the earnings of his brain and pen, was generally set on 
to capture them. 

Was that really why he had come down? to 
make sure of this rich Laodicean? Lankester fell into 
a reverie. 

He was a man of curious gifts and double person- 
ality. It was generally impossible to lure him, on any 
pretext, from the East End and the House of Com- 
mons. He lived in a block of model dwellings in a street 
opening out of the East India Dock Road, and his 
rooms, whenever he was at home, were overrun by chil- 
dren from the neighbouring tenements. To them he 
was all gentleness and fun, while his command of in- 
[ 428 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

vective in a public meeting was little short of terrible. 
Great ladies and the country-houses courted him be- 
cause of a certain wit, a certain charm above all, a 
certain spiritual power which piqued the worldling. 
He flouted and refused the great ladies with a smile, 
however, which gave no offence; and he knew, not- 
withstanding, everybody whom he wanted to know. 
Occasionally he made quiet spaces in his life, and dis- 
appeared from London for days or weeks. When he 
reappeared it was often with a battered and exhausted 
air, as of one from whom virtue had gone out. He was, 
in truth, a mystic of a secular kind : very difficult to 
class religiously, though he called himself a member 
of the Society of Friends. Lady Lucy, who was of 
Quaker extraction, recognised in his ways and phrases 
echoes from the meetings and influences of her youth. 
But, in reality, he was self-taught and self -formed, on 
the lines of an Evangelical tradition, which had owed 
something, a couple of generations back, among his 
Danish forebears, to the influence of Emanuel Sweden- 
borg. This tradition had not only been conveyed to 
him by a beloved and saintly mother; it had been 
appropriated by the man's inmost forces. What he 
believed in, with all mystics, was prayer an inti- 
mate and ineffable communion between the heart and 
God. Lying half asleep on the House of Commons 
benches, or strolling on the Terrace, he pursued often 
an inner existence, from which he could spring in a 
moment to full mundane life arguing passionately 
for some Socialist proposal, scathing an opponent, or 
laughing and 'ragging' with a group of friends, like 
a school-boy on an exeat. But whatever he did, an 
[ 429 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

atmosphere went with him that made him beloved. 
He was extremely poor, and wrote for his living. His 
opinions won the scorn of moderate men; and every 
year his influence in Parliament on both sides of 
the House and with the Labour party increased. 
On his rare appearance in such houses as Tallyn Hall, 
every servant in the house marked and befriended 
him. The tall footman, for instance, who had just 
been endeavouring to make the threadbare cuffs of 
Lankester's dress-coat present a more decent appear- 
ance, had done it in no spirit of patronage, but simply 
in order that a gentleman who spoke to him as a man 
and a brother should not go at a disadvantage among 
'toffs' who did nothing of the kind. 

But again why had he come down? 

During the last months of Parliament, Lankester 
had seen a good deal of Oliver. The story of Diana 
and of Marsham's interrupted wooing was by that 
time public property, probably owing to the indigna- 
tion of certain persons in Brookshire. As we have seen, 
it had injured the prestige of the man concerned, in 
and out of Parliament. But Lankester, who looked 
at life intimately and intensely, with the eye of a con- 
fessor, had been roused by it to a curiosity about 
Oliver Marsham whom at the time he was meeting 
habitually on political affairs which he had never 
felt before. He, with his brooding second-sight, based 
on a spiritual estimate of the world, he and Lady 
Lucy, alone saw that Marsham was unhappy. His 
irritable moodiness might, of course, have nothing to 
do with his failure to play the man in the case of Miss 
Mallory. Lankester was inclined to think it had - 
[ 430 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Alicia Drake or no Alicia Drake. And the grace of 
repentance is so rare in mankind that the mystic - 
his own secret life wavering perpetually between 
repentance and ecstasy is drawn to the merest 
shadow of it. 

These hidden thoughts on Lankester's side had been 
met by a new and tacit friendliness on Marsham's. 
He had shown an increasing liking for Lankester's 
company, and had finally asked him to come down 
and help him in his constituency. 

By George, if he married that girl, he would pay 
his penalty to the utmost! 

Lankester leant out of window again, his eyes 
sweeping the dreary park. In reality they had before 
them Marsham's aspect at the declaration of the poll 
- head and face thrown back defiantly, hollow eyes 
of bitterness and fatigue ; and the scene outside in 
front, a booing crowd and beside the new Member, 
Alicia's angry and insolent look. 

The election represented a set-back in a man's ca- 
reer, in spite of the bare victory. And Lankester did 
not think it would be retrieved. With a prophetic in- 
sight which seldom failed him, he saw that Marsham's 
chapter of success was closed. He might get some 
small office out of the Government. Nevertheless, the 
scale of life had dropped on the wrong side. Through 
Lankester's thought there shot a pang of sympathy. 
Defeat was always more winning to him than triumph. 

Meanwhile the new Member himself was in no melt- 
ing mood. 

Forbes was right. Marsham, in his room, looking 
[ 431 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

over the letters which his servant had brought him, 
was only conscious of two feelings disgust and loath- 
ing with regard to the contest just over, and a dogged 
determination with regard to the future. He had been 
deserted by the moderates by the Ferrierites in 
spite of all his endeavours to keep within courteous 
and judicial bounds ; and he had been all but sacrificed 
to a forbearance which had not saved him apparently 
a single moderate vote, and had lost him scores on the 
advanced side. 

With regard to Ferrier personally, he was extremely 
sore. A letter from him during the preceding week 
would certainly have influenced votes. Marsham de- 
nied hotly that his speeches had been of a character 
to offend or injure his old friend and leader. A man 
must really be allowed some honest latitude of opinion, 
even under party government ! and in circumstances 
of personal obligation. He had had to steer a most dif- 
ficult course. But why must he give up his principles 
not to speak of his chances of political advancement 
- because John Ferrier had originally procured him 
his seat in Parliament, and had been his parents' inti- 
mate friend for many years? Let the Whig deserters 
answer that question, if they could ! 

His whole being was tingling with anger and resent- 
ment. The contest had steeped him in humiliations 
which stuck to him like mud-stains. 

The week before, he had written to Ferrier, imploring 
him if possible to come and speak for him or at least 
to write a letter ; humbling his pride ; and giving elab- 
orate explanations of the line which he had taken. 

There, on the table beside him, was Ferrier's reply : 
[ 432 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

MY DEAR OLIVER, I 'don't think a letter would 
do you much good, and for a speech, I am too tired 
and I am afraid at the present moment too thin- 
skinned. Pray excuse me. We shall meet when this 
hubbub is over. All success to you. 

Yours ever, J. F. 

Was there ever a more ungracious, a more uncalled- 
for, letter? Well, at any rate, he was free henceforward 
to think and act for himself, and on public grounds 
only ; though of course he would do nothing unworthy 
of an old friendship, or calculated to hurt his mother's 
feelings. Ferrier, by this letter, and by the strong neg- 
ative influence he must have exerted in West Brook- 
shire during the election, had himself loosened the old 
bond ; and Marsham would henceforth stand on his 
own feet. 

As to Ferrier's reasons for a course of action so 
wholly unlike any he had ever yet taken in the case of 
Lucy Marsham's son, Oliver's thoughts found them- 
selves engaged in a sore and perpetual wrangle. Fer- 
rier, he supposed, suspected him of a lack of 'straight- 
ness' ; and did not care to maintain an intimate rela- 
tion, which had been already, and might be again, used 
against him. Marsham, on his side, recalled with dis- 
comfort various small incidents in the House of Com- 
mons which might have seemed to an enemy to 
illustrate or confirm such an explanation of the state 
of things. 

Absurd, of course ! He was an old friend of Ferrier's, 
whose relation to his mother necessarily involved close 
and frequent contact with her son. And at the same 
[ 433 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

time although in the past Ferrier had no doubt laid 
him under great personal and political obligations - 
he had by now, in the natural course of things, devel- 
oped strong opinions of his own, especially as to the 
conduct of party affairs in the House of Commons; 
opinions which were not Ferrier 's which were, in- 
deed, vehemently opposed to Ferrier's. In his, Oli- 
ver's, opinion, Ferrier's lead in the House on certain 
questions was a lead of weakness, making for disas- 
ter. Was he not even to hold, much less to express such 
a view, because of the quasi-parental relation in which 
Ferrier had once stood to him? The whole thing was 
an odious confusion most unfair to him individually 
- between personal and Parliamentary duty. 

Frankness? loyalty? It would, no doubt, be said 
that Ferrier had always behaved with singular gen- 
erosity both toward opponents and toward dissidents 
in his own party. Open and serious argument was at 
no time unwelcome to him. 

All very well ! But how was one to argue, beyond 
a certain point, with a man twenty -five years your sen- 
ior, who had known you in jackets, and was also your 
political chief? 

Moreover, he had argued to the best of his ability. 
Ferrier had written him a striking series of letters, no 
doubt, and he had replied to them. As to Ferrier's 
wish that he should communicate certain points in 
those letters to Barton and Lankester, he had done it, 
to some extent. But it was a most useless proceeding. 
The arguments employed had been considered and 
rejected a hundred times already by every member of 
the dissident group. 

[ 434 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

And with regard to the meeting, which had ap- 
parently roused so sharp a resentment in Ferrier, Mar- 
sham maintained simply that he was not responsible. 
It was a meeting of the advanced Radicals of the 
division. Neither Marsham nor his agents had been 
present. Certain remarks and opinions of his own 
had been quoted, indeed, even in public, as leading 
up to it and justifying it. A great mistake. He had 
never meant to countenance any personal attack on 
Ferrier or his leadership. Yet he uncomfortably ad- 
mitted that the meeting had told badly on the election. 
In the view of one side, he had not had pluck enough 
to go to it ; in the view of the other, he had disgrace- 
fully connived at it. 

The arrival of the evening post and papers did some- 
thing to brush away these dismal self-communings. 
Wonderful news from the counties ! The success of the 
latest batch of advanced candidates had been aston- 
ishing. Other men, it seemed, had been free to liber- 
ate their souls ! Well, now the arbiter of the situation 
was Lord Philip, and there would certainly be a strong 
advanced infusion in the new Ministry. Marsham con- 
sidered that he had as good claims as any of the 
younger men; and if it came to another election in 
Brookshire, hateful as the prospect was, he should be 
fighting in the open, and choosing his own weapons. 
No shirking ! His whole being gathered itself into a 
passionate determination to retaliate upon the per- 
sons who had injured, thwarted, and calumniated him 
during the contest just over. He would fight again - 
next week, if necessary and he would win ! 
[ 435 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

As to the particular and personal calumnies with 
which he had been assailed why, of course, he ab- 
solved Diana. She could have had no hand in them. 

Suddenly he pushed his papers from him with a 
hasty unconscious movement. 

In driving home that evening past the gates and 
plantations of Beechcote it seemed to him that he had 
seen through the trees in the distance the flut- 
tering of a white dress. Had the news of his inglorious 
success just reached her? How had she received it? 
Her face came before him the frank eyes the 
sweet troubled look. 

He dropped his head upon his arms. A sick distaste 
for all that he had been doing and thinking rose upon 
him, wavelike, drowning for a moment the energies of 
mind and will. Had anything been worth while for 
him since the day when he had failed to keep the 
last tryst which Diana had offered him? 

He did not, however, long allow himself a weakness 
which he knew well he had no right to indulge. He 
roused himself abruptly, took pen and paper, and 
wrote a little note to Alicia, sending it round to her 
through her maid. 

Marsham pleaded fatigue, and dined in his room. 

In the course of the meal he inquired of his servant if 

Mr. Barrington had arrived. 
' Yes, sir ; he arrived in time for dinner.' 
'Ask him to come up afterwards and see me here/ 
As he awaited the newcomer, Marsham had time to 

ponder what this visit of a self-invited guest might 

mean. The support of the Herald and its brilliant ed- 
[ 436 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

itor had been so far one of Ferrier's chief assets. But 
there had been some signs of wavering in its columns 
lately, especially on two important questions likely to 
occupy the new Ministry in its first session matters 
on which the opinion of the Darcy, or advanced sec- 
tion, was understood to be in violent conflict with that 
of Ferrier and the senior members of the late Front 
Opposition Bench in general. 

Barrington, no doubt, wished to pump him one of 
Ferrier's intimates with regard to the latest phase 
of Ferrier's views on these two principal measures. 
The leader himself was rather stiff and old-fashioned 
with regard to journalists gave too little informa- 
tion where other men gave too much. 

Oliver glanced in some disquiet at the pile of Fer- 
rier's letters lying beside him. It contained material 
for which any ambitious journalist, at the present junc- 
ture, would give the eyes out of his head. But could 
Barrington be trusted? Oliver vaguely remembered 
some stories to his disadvantage, told probably by Lan- 
kester, who in these respects was one of the most 
scrupulous of men. Yet the paper stood high, and was 
certainly written with conspicuous ability. 

Why not give him information? cautiously, of 
course, and with discretion. What harm could it do - 
to Ferrier or any one else? The party was torn by dis- 
sensions ; and the first and most necessary step toward 
reunion was that Ferrier's aims and methods should 
be thoroughly understood. No doubt in these letters, 
as he had himself pointed out, he had expressed him- 
self with complete, even dangerous freedom. But 
there was not going to be any question of putting them 
[ 437 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

into Harrington's hands. Certainly not ! merely a 
quotation a reference here and there. 

As he began to sketch his own share in the expected 
conversation, a pleasant feeling of self-importance 
crept in, soothing to the wounds of the preceding week. 
Secretly Marsham knew that he had never yet made 
the mark in politics that he had hoped to make, that 
his abilities entitled him to make. The more he thought 
of it the more he realised that the coming half-hour 
might be of great significance in English politics; he 
had it in his own power to make it so. He was conscious 
of a strong wish to impress Barrington perhaps 
Ferrier also. After all, a man grows up, and does not 
remain an Eton boy, or an undergraduate, for ever. 
It would be well to make Ferrier more aware than he 
was of that fact. 

In the midst of his thoughts the door opened, and 
Barrington a man showing in his dark-skinned, 
large-featured alertness the signs of Jewish pliancy 
and intelligence walked in. 

'Are you up to conversation?' he said, laughing. 
'You look pretty done!' 

'If I can whisper you what you want/ said Oliver, 
huskily, 'it's at your service! There are the cigar- 
ettes/ 

The talk lasted long. Midnight was near before the 
two men separated. 

The news of Marsham's election reached Ferrier 

under Sir James Glide's roof, in the pleasant furnished 

house about four miles from Beechcote, of which he 

had lately become the tenant in order to be near Diana. 

[ 438 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

It was conveyed in a letter from Lady Lucy, of which 
the conclusion ran as follows : 

' It is so strange not to have you here this evening 
- not to be able to talk over with you all these anxie- 
ties and trials. I can't help being a little angry with 
Sir James. We are the oldest friends. 

' Of course I have often been anxious lately lest Oli- 
ver should have done anything to offend you. I have 
spoken to him about that tiresome meeting, and I 
think I could prove to you it was not his fault. Do, 
my dear friend, come here as soon as you can, and let 
me explain to you whatever may have seemed wrong. 
You cannot think how much we miss you. I feel it a 
little hard that there should be strangers here this even- 
ing like Mr. Lankester and Mr. Barrington. But it 
could not be helped. Mr. Lankester was speaking for 
Oliver last night and Mr. Barrington invited him- 
self. I really don't know why. Oliver is dreadfully 
tired and so am I. The ingratitude and ill-feeling 
of many of our neighbours has tried me sorely. It will 
be a long time before I forget it. It really seems as 
though nothing were worth striving for in this very 
difficult world/ 

'Poor Lucy!' said Ferrier to himself, his heart soft- 
ening, as usual. 'Barrington? H'm. That's odd.' 
He had only time for a short reply : 

MY DEAR LADY LUCY, It's horrid that you are 
tired and depressed. I wish I could come and cheer 
you up. Politics are a cursed trade. But never mind, 
[ 439 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Oliver is safely in, and as soon as the Government is 
formed, I will come to Tallyn, and we will laugh at 
these woes. I can't write at greater length now, for 
Broadstone has just summoned me. You will have 
seen that he went to Windsor this morning. Now the 
agony begins. Let's hope it may be decently short. I 
am just off for town. 

Yours ever, JOHN FERRIER. 

Two days passed three days and still the 
'agony' lasted. Lord Broadstone's house in Portman 
Square was besieged all day by anxious journalists 
watching the goings and comings of a Cabinet in the 
making. But nothing could be communicated to the 
newspapers nothing, in fact, was settled. Envoys, 
went backward and forward to Lord Philip in North- 
amptonshire. Urgent telegrams invited him to London. 
He took no notice of the telegrams ; he did not invite 
the envoys, and when they came he had little or no- 
thing of interest to say to them. Lord Broadstone, he 
declared, was fully in possession of his views. He had 
nothing more to add. And, indeed, a short note from 
him laid by in the new Premier's pocket-book was, if 
the truth were known, the fons et origo of all Lord 
Broadstone's difficulties. 

Meanwhile the more conservative section exerted 
itself, and by the evening of the third day it seemed to 
have triumphed. A rumour spread abroad that Lord 
Philip had gone too far. Ferrier emerged from a long 
colloquy with the Prime Minister, walking briskly 
across the square with his secretary, smiling at some 
of the reporters in waiting. Twenty minutes later, as 
[440] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

he stood in the smoking-room of the Reform, sur- 
rounded by a few privileged friends, Lankester passed 
through the room. 

'By Jove/ he said to a friend with him, 'I believe 
Ferrier 's done the trick!' 

In spite, however, of a contented mind, Ferrier was 
aware, on reaching his own house, that he was far from 
well. There was nothing very much to account for his 
feeling of illness. A slight pain across the chest, a slight 
feeling of faintness, when he came to count up his 
symptoms ; nothing else appeared. It was a glorious 
summer evening. He determined to go back to Chide, 
who now always returned to Lytchett by an evening 
train, after a working-day in town. Accordingly, the 
new Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the 
House dined lightly, and went off to St. Pancras, leav- 
ing a note for the Prime Minister to say where he was 
to be found, and promising to come to town again the 
following afternoon. 

The following morning fulfilled the promise of the 
tranquil evening and starry night, which, amid the 
deep quiet of the country, had done much to refresh a 
man, in whom, indeed, a stimulating consciousness of 
success seemed already to have repaired the ravages 
of the fight. 

Ferrier was always an early riser, and by nine o'clock 
he and Sir James were pottering and smoking in the 
garden. A long case in which Chide had been engaged 
had come to an end the preceding day. The great law- 
yer sent word to his chambers that he was not coming 
f 441 1 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

up to town ; Ferrier ascertained that he was only half 
an hour from a telegraph-office, made a special arrange- 
ment with the local post as to a mid-day delivery of 
letters, and then gave himself up for the morning to 
rest, gossip, and a walk. 

By a tiresome contretemps the newspapers did not 
arrive at breakfast-time. Sir James was but a new- 
comer in the district, and the parcel of papers due to him 
had gone astray through the stupidity of a newsboy. 
A servant was sent into Dunscombe, five miles off; and 
meanwhile Ferrier bore the blunder with equanimity. 
His letters of the morning, fresh from the heart of 
things, made newspapers a mere superfluity. They 
could tell him nothing that he did not know already. 
And as for opinions, those might wait. 

He proposed, indeed, before the return of the serv- 
ant from Dunscombe, to walk over to Beechcote. The 
road lay through woods, two miles of shade. He pined 
for exercise; Diana and her young sympathy acted as 
a magnet both on him and on Sir James ; and it was to 
be presumed she took a daily paper, being, as Ferrier 
recalled, 'a terrible little Tory/ 

In less than an hpur they were at Beechcote. They 
found Diana and Mrs. Colwood on the lawn of the old 
house, reading and working in the shade of a yew 
hedge planted by that Topham Beauclerk who was 
a friend of Johnson. The scent of roses and limes ; the 
hum of bees ; the beauty of slow-sailing clouds, and of 
the shadows they flung on the mellowed colour of the 
house; combined with the figure of Diana in white, 
her eager eyes, her smile, and her unquenchable inter- 
est in all that concerned the two friends, of whose de- 
[442] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

votion to her she was so gratefully and simply proud 
- these things put the last touch to Ferrier 's enjoy- 
ment. He flung himself on the grass, talking to both 
the ladies of the incidents and absurdities of Cabinet- 
making, with a freedom and fun, an abandonment of 
anxiety and care that made him young again. No- 
body mentioned a newspaper. 

Presently Chide, who had now taken the part of 
general adviser to Diana, which had once been filled by 
Marsham, strolled off with her to look at a greenhouse 
in need of repairs. Mrs. Colwood was called in by some 
household matter. Ferrier was left alone. 

As usual, he had a book in his pocket. This time it 
was a volume of selected essays, ranging from Bacon 
to Carlyle. He began lazily to turn the pages, smiling 
to himself the while at the paradoxes of life. Here, for 
an hour, he sat under the limes, drunk with summer 
breezes and scents, toying with a book, as though he 
were some 'indolent irresponsible reviewer' some 
college fellow in vacation some wooer of an idle 
muse. Yet dusk that evening would find him once 
more in the Babel of London. And before him lay the 
most strenuous, and, as he hoped, the most fruitful 
passage of his political life. Broadstone, too, was an 
old man ; the Premiership itself could not be far away. 

As for Lord Philip Ferrier's thoughts ran upon 
that gentleman with a good-humour which was not 
without malice. He had played his cards extremely 
well, but the trumps in his hand had not been quite 
strong enough. Well, he was young ; plenty of time yet 
for Cabinet office. That he would be a thorn in the 
side of the new Ministry went without saying. Ferrier 
[ 443 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

felt no particular dismay at the prospect, and amused 
himself with speculations on the letters which had 
probably passed that very day between Broadstone 
and the 'iratus Achilles' in Northamptonshire. 

And from Lord Philip, Ferrier's thoughts shrewdly 
indulgent strayed to the other conspirators, and 
to Oliver Marsham in particular, their spokesman 
and intermediary. Suddenly a great softness in- 
vaded him toward Oliver and his mother. After all, 
had he not been hard with the boy, to leave him to his 
fight without a word of help? Oliver's ways were irri- 
tating ; he had more than one of the intriguer's gifts ; 
and several times during the preceding weeks Ferrier's 
mind had recurred with disquiet to the letters in his 
hands. But, after all, things had worked out better 
than could possibly have been expected. The Herald, 
in particular, had done splendid service, to himself per- 
sonally, and to the moderates in general. Now was the 
time for amnesty and reconciliation all round . Ferrier's 
mind ran busily on schemes of the kind. As to Oliver, 
he had already spoken to Broadstone about him, and 
would speak again that night. Certainly he must have 
something a Junior Lordship at least. And if he were 
opposed on re-election, why, he should be helped 
roundly helped. Ferrier already saw himself at Tallyn 
once more, with Lady Lucy's frail hand in one of his, 
the other perhaps on Oliver's shoulder. After all, where 
was he happy or nearly happy but with them? 

His eyes returned to his book. With a mild amuse- 
ment he saw that it had opened of itself at an essay, 
by Abraham Cowley, on ' Greatness' and its penalties : 
[ 444 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Out of these inconveniences arises naturally one 
more, which is, that no greatness can be satisfied or 
contented with itself ; still, if it could mount up a little 
higher, it would be happy; if it could gain but that 
point, it would obtain all its desires ; but yet at last, 
when it is got up to the very top of the peak of Tener- 
iffe, it is in very great danger of breaking its neck down- 
wards, but in no possibility of ascending upwards 
into the seat of tranquillity about the moon/ 

The new Secretary of State threw himself back in 
his garden chair, his hands behind his head. Cowley 
wrote well ; but the old fellow did not, after all, know 
much about it, in spite of his boasted experiences at 
that sham and musty court of St. Germain's. Is it true 
that men who have climbed high are always thirsty to 
climb higher? No! 'What is my feeling now? Simply 
a sense of opportunity. A man may be glad to have the 
chance of leaving his mark on England/ 

Thoughts rose in him which were not those of a pes- 
simist thoughts, however, which the wise man will 
express as little as possible, since talk profanes them. 
The concluding words of Peel's great Corn-Law speech 
ran through his memory, and thrilled it. He was ac- 
cused of indifference to the lot of the poor. It was not 
true. It never had been true. 

' Hullo ! who comes? ' 

Mrs. Colwood was running over the lawn, bringing 
apparently a letter, and a newspaper. 

She came up, a little breathless. 

'This letter has just come for you, Mr. Ferrier, by 
special messenger. And Miss Mallory asked me to 
bring you the newspaper/ 

[ 445 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Ferrier took the letter which was bulky and ad- 
dressed in the Premier's handwriting. 

' Kindly ask the messenger to wait. I will come and 
speak to him/ 

He opened the letter and read it. Then, having put 
it deliberately in his pocket, he sat bending forward, 
staring at the grass. The newspaper caught his eye. 
It was the Herald of that morning. He raised it from 
the ground, read the first leading article, and then a 
column 'from a correspondent' on which the article 
was based. 

As he came to the end of it a strange premonition 
took possession of him. He was still himself, but it 
seemed to him that the roar of some approaching cat- 
aract was in his ears. He mastered himself with diffi- 
culty, took a pencil from his pocket, and drew a waver- 
ing line beside a passage in the article contributed by 
the Herald's correspondent. The newspaper slid from 
his knee to the ground. 

Then, with a groping hand, he sought again for 
Broadstone's letter, drew it out of its envelope, and, 
with a mist before his eyes, felt for the last page which 
he seemed to remember was blank. On this he traced, 
with difficulty, a few lines, replaced the whole letter 
in the torn envelope and wrote an address upon it - 
uncertainly crossing out his own name. 

Then, suddenly he fell back. The letter followed the 
newspaper to the ground. Deadly weakness was creep- 
ing upon him, but as yet the brain was clear. Only his 
will struggled no more; everything had given way, but 
with the sense of utter catastrophe there mingled nei- 
ther pain nor bitterness. Some of the Latin verse scat- 
[ 446 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

tered over the essay he had been reading ran vaguely 
through his mind then phrases from his last talk 
with the Prime Minister then remembrances of the 
night at Assisi and the face of the poet - 

A piercing cry rang out close beside him Diana's 
cry. His life made a last rally, and his eyes opened. 
They closed again, and he heard no more. 

Sir James Chide stooped over Diana. 

' Run for help ! brandy ! a doctor ! I '11 stay 
with him. Run!' 

Diana ran. She met Mrs. Colwood hurrying, and sent 
her for brandy. She herself sped on blindly toward the 
village. 

A few yards beyond the Beechcote gate she was over- 
taken by a carriage. There was an exclamation, the 
carriage pulled up sharp, and a man leapt from it. 

'Miss Mallory ! what is the matter?' 

She looked up, saw Oliver Marsham, and, in the 
carriage behind him, Lady Lucy, sitting stiff and pale, 
with astonished eyes. 

' Mr. Ferrier is ill very ill ! Please go for the doctor. 
He is here at my house/ 

The figure in the carriage rose hurriedly. Lady Lucy 
was beside her. 'What is the matter?' She laid an 
imperious hand on the girl's arm. 

'I think he is dying/ said Diana, gasping. ' Oh, 
come ! come back at once ! ' 

Marsham was already in the carriage. The horse 
galloped forward. Diana and Lady Lucy ran toward 
the house. 

'In the garden/ said Diana, breathlessly; and, tak- 
ing Lady Lucy's hand, she guided her. 
[ 447 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Beside the dying man stood Sir James Chide, Muriel 
Colwood, and the old butler. Sir James looked up, 
started at the sight of Lady Lucy, and went to meet 
her. 

'You are just in time/ he said, tenderly; 'but he is 
going fast. We have done all we could/ 

Ferrier was now lying on the grass, his head sup- 
ported. Lady Lucy sank beside him. 

' John !' she called, in a voice of anguish 'John 
dear, dear friend !' 

But the dying man made no sign. And as she lifted 
his hand to her lips the love she had shown him so 
grudgingly in life speaking now undisguised through 
her tears and her despair Sir James watched the 
gentle passage of the last breaths, and knew that all 
was done the play over and the lights out. 



CHAPTER XIX 

A SAD hurrying and murmuring filled the old rooms 
and passages of Beechcote. The village doctor had 
arrived, and under his direction the body of John Fer- 
rier had been removed from the garden to the library 
of the house. There, amid Diana's books and pictures, 
Ferrier lay, shut-eyed and serene, that touch of the 
ugly and the ponderous which in life had mingled with 
the power and humanity of his aspect entirely lost and 
drowned in the dignity of death. 

Chide and the doctor were in low-voiced consulta- 
tion at one end of the room ; Lady Lucy sat beside the 
body, her face buried in her hands; Marsham stood 
behind her. 

Brown, the butler, noiselessly entered the room, and 
approached Chide. 

' Please, sir, Lord Broadstone's messenger is here. 
He thinks you might wish him to take back a letter to 
his lordship/ 

Chide turned abruptly. 

'Lord Broadstone's messenger?' 

' He brought a letter for Mr. Ferrier, sir, half an hour 
ago.' 

Chide 's face changed. 

'Where is the letter?' 

He turned to the doctor, who shook his head. 

'I saw nothing when we brought him in.' 

Marsham, who had overheard the conversation, 
came forward. 

[ 449 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Perhaps on the grass ' 

Chide pale, with drawn brows looked at him 
a moment in silence. 

Marsham hurried to the garden and to the spot un- 
der the yews, where the death had taken place. Round 
the garden-chairs were signs of trampling feet the 
feet of the gardeners who had carried the body. A 
medley of books, opened letters, and working-materi- 
als lay on the grass. Marsham looked through them ; 
they all belonged to Diana or Mrs. Colwood. Then he 
noticed a cushion which had fallen beside the chair, and 
a corner of newspaper peeping from below it. He 
lifted it up. 

Below lay Broadstone's opened letter, in its envelope, 
addressed first in the Premier's well-known handwrit- 
ing to 'The Right Honble. John Ferrier, M.P.' and 
secondly, in wavering pencil, to ' Lady Lucy Marsham, 
Tallyn Hall/ 

Marsham turned the letter over, while thoughts 
hurried through his brain. Evidently Ferrier had had 
time to read it. Why that address to his mother? - 
and in that painful hand written, it seemed, with 
the weakness of death already upon him? 

The newspaper? Ah! the Herald! lying as 
though after reading it, Ferrier had thrown it down 
and let the letter drop upon it, from a hand that had 
ceased to obey him. As Marsham saw it the colour 
rushed into his cheeks. He stooped and raised it. Sud- 
denly he noticed on the margin of the paper a pencilled 
line, faint and wavering, like the words written on the 
envelope. It ran beside a passage in the article 'from 
a correspondent/ and as he looked at it consciousness 
[ 450 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

and pulse paused in dismay. There, under his eye, in 
that dim mark, was the last word and sign of John 
Ferrier. 

He was still staring at it when a sound disturbed 
him. Lady Lucy came to him, feebly, across the grass. 
Marsham dropped the newspaper, retaining Broad- 
stone's letter. 

'Sir James wished me to leave him a little/ she said, 
brokenly. 'The ambulance will be here directly. They 
will take him to Lytchett. I thought it should have 
been Tallyn. But Sir James decided it.' 

'Mother!' --Marsham moved toward her, reluct- 
antly 'here is a letter no doubt of importance. 
And it is addressed to you/ 

Lady Lucy gave a little cry. She looked at the 
pencilled address, with quivering lips; then she 
opened the envelope, and on the back of the 
closely written letter she saw at once Ferrier 's last 
words to her. 

Marsham, moved by a son's natural impulse, stooped 
and kissed her hair. He drew a chair forward, and she 
sank into it with the letter. While she was reading it he 
raised the Herald again, unobserved, folded it up hur- 
riedly, and put it in his pocket ; then walked away a 
few steps, that he might leave his mother to her grief. 
Presently Lady Lucy called him 

' Oliver ! ' The voice was strong. He went back to 
her and she received him with sparkling eyes, her hand 
on Broadstone's letter. 

'Oliver, this is what killed him! Lord Broadstone 
must bear the responsibility.' 

And hurriedly, incoherently, she explained that the 
[ 451 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

letter from Lord Broadstone was an urgent appeal to 
Ferrier's patriotism and to his personal friendship for 
the writer ; begging him for the sake of party unity, 
and for the sake of the country, to allow the Prime 
Minister to cancel the agreement of the day before; 
to accept a peerage and the War Office in lieu of the 
Exchequer and the leadership of the House. The Pre- 
mier gave a full account of the insurmountable dif- 
ficulties in the way of the completion of the Govern- 
ment, which had disclosed themselves during the course 
of the afternoon and evening following his interview 
with Ferrier. Refusals of the most unexpected kind, 
from the most unlikely quarters ; letters and visits of 
protests from persons impossible to ignore most 
of them, no doubt, engineered by Lord Philip ; 'finally 
the newspapers of this morning especially the arti- 
cle in the Herald, which you will have seen before this 
reaches you all these, taken together, convince me 
that if I cannot persuade you to see the matter in the " 
same light as I do and I know well that, whether you 
accept or refuse, you will put the public advantage first 
- I must at once inform Her Majesty that my attempt 
to construct a Government 'has broken down/ 

Marsham followed her version of the letter as well 
as he could ; and as she turned the last page, he too 
perceived the pencilled writing, which was not Broad- 
stone's. This she did not offer to communicate ; indeed 
she covered it at once with her hand. 

'Yes, I suppose it was the shock/ he said, in a low 
voice. ' But it was not Broadstone 's fault. It was no 
one's fault/ 

Lady Lucy flushed and looked up. 
[ 452 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'That man Harrington ! ' she said, vehemently. ' Oh, 
if I had never had him in my house ! ' 

Oliver made no reply. He sat beside her, staring at 
the grass. Suddenly Lady Lucy touched him on the 
knee. 

'Oliver!' her voice was gasping and difficult 
'Oliver! you had nothing to do with that?' 

'With what, mother?' 

'With the Herald article. I read it this morning. 
But I laughed at it! John's letter arrived at the same 
moment so happy, so full of plans 

' Mother ! you don't imagine that a man in Ferrier 's 
position can be upset by an article in a newspaper?' 

' I don't know the Herald was so important I 
have heard John say so. Oliver!' her face worked 
painfully ' I know you talked with that man that 
night. You didn't' 

'I did n't say anything of which I am ashamed,' he 
said, sharply, raising his head. 

His mother looked at him in silence. Their eyes met 
in a flash of strange antagonism as though each 
accused the other. 

A sound behind them made Lady Lucy turn round. 
Brown was coming over the grass. 

'A telegram, sir, for you. Your coachman stopped 
the boy and sent him here/ 

Marsham opened it hastily. As he read it his grey 
and haggard face flushed again heavily. 

Awful news just reached me. Deepest sympathy 
with you and yours. Should be grateful if I might see 
you to-day. BROADSTONE. 

[ 453 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

He handed it to his mother, but Lady Lucy scarcely 
took in the sense of it. When he left her to write his 
answer, she sat on in the July sun which had now 
reached the chairs, mechanically drawing her large 
country hat forward to shield her from its glare a 
forlorn figure, with staring absent eyes ; every detail of 
her sharp slenderness, her blanched and quivering face, 
the elegance of her black dress, the diamond fastening 
the black lace hat-strings tied under her pointed chin 
set in the full and searching illumination of mid-day. 
It showed her an old woman left alone. 

Her whole being rebelled against what had hap- 
pened to her. Life without John's letters, John's hom- 
age, John's sympathy how was it to be endured? 
Disguises that shrouded her habitual feelings and in- 
stincts even from herself dropped away. That Oliver 
was left to her did not make up to her in the least for 
John's death. 

The smart that held her in its grip was a new expe- 
rience. She had never felt it at the death of the imperi- 
ous husband, to whom she had been, nevertheless, de- 
corously attached. Her thoughts clung to those last 
broken words under her hand, trying to wring from 
them something that might content and comfort her 
remorse : 

DEAR LUCY, I feel ill it may be nothing - 
Chide and you may read this letter. Broadstone could 
n't help it. Tell him so. Bless you - Tell Oliver - 

Yours, J, F. 

The greater part of the letter was all but illegible 
[ 454 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

even by her but the 'bless you/ and the ' J. F.' were 
more firmly written than the rest, as though the failing 
hand had made a last effort. 

Her spiritual vanity was hungry and miserable. 
Surely, though she would not be his wife, she had been 
John's best friend ! his good angel. Her heart clam- 
oured for some warmer, gratefuller word that might 
justify her to herself. And, instead, she realised for the 
first time the desert she had herself created, the lone- 
liness she had herself imposed. And with prophetic 
terror she saw in front of her the daily self-reproach 
that her self-esteem might not be able to kill. 

' Tell Oliver ' 

Did it mean 'If I die, tell Oliver 1 ? But John never 
said anything futile or superfluous in his life. Was it 
not rather the beginning of some last word to Oliver 
that he could not finish ? Oh, if her son had indeed con- 
tributed to his death ! 

She shivered under the thought; hurrying recollec- 
tions of Mr. Harrington's visit, of the Herald article of 
that morning, of Oliver's speeches and doings during 
the preceding month, rushing through her mind. She 
had already expressed her indignation about the Her- 
ald article to Oliver that morning, on the drive which 
had been so tragically interrupted. 

'Dear Lady Lucy!' 

She looked up. Sir James Chide stood beside her. 

The first thing he did was to draw her to her feet, 
and then to move her chair into the shade. 

'You have lost^more than any of us/ he said, as she 
sank back into it, and holding out his hand, he took 
hers into his warm compassionate clasp. He had never 
[ 455 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

thought that she behaved well to Ferrier, and he knew 
that she had behaved vilely to Diana; but his heart 
melted within him at the sight of a woman and a 
grey-haired woman in grief. 

' I hear you found Broadstone's letter? ' He glanced 
at it on her lap. ' I too have heard from him. The mes- 
senger, as soon as he knew I was here, produced a letter 
for me that he was to have taken on to Lytchett. It is 
a nice letter a very nice letter, as far as that goes. 
Broadstone wanted me to use my influence with 
John described his difficulties - 

Glide's hand suddenly clinched on his knee. 

' If I could only get at that creature, Lord Philip ! ' 

' You think it was the shock killed him ? ' The hard 
slow tears had begun again to drop upon her dress. 

' Oh ! he has been an ill man since May/ said Chide, 

evasively. 'No doubt there has been heart mischief 

- unsuspected for a long time. The doctors will 

know presently. Poor Broadstone ! it will nearly 

kill him too.' 

She held out the letter to him. 

'You are to read it'; and then, in broken tones, 
pointing: 'look! he said so/ 

He started as he saw the writing on the back, and 
again his hand pressed hers kindly. 

' He felt ill/ she said, brokenly ; ' he foresaw it. Those 
are his last words his precious last words/ 

She hid her face. As Chide gave it back to her, his 
brow and lip had settled into the look which made him 
so formidable in court. He looked round him abruptly. 

'Where is the Herald ? I hear Mrs. Colwood brought 
it out/ 

[ 456 ] 






THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

He searched the grass in vain, and the chairs. 

Lady Lucy was silent. Presently she rose feebly. 

'When when will they take him away?' 

' Directly. The ambulance is coming I shall go 
with him. Take my arm/ She leant on him heavily, 
and as they approached the house they saw two figures 
step out of it Marsham and Diana. 

Diana came quickly, in her light white dress. Her 
eyes were red, but she was quite composed. Chide 
looked at her with tenderness. In the two hours which 
had passed since the tragedy she had been the help and 
the support of everybody, writing, giving directions, 
making arrangements, under his own guidance, while 
keeping herself entirely in the background. No parade 
of grief, no interference with himself or the doctors; 
but once, as he sat by the body in the darkened room, 
he was conscious of her coming in, of her kneeling for 
a little while at the dead man's side, of her soft, stifled 
weeping. He had not said a word to her, nor she to 
him. They understood each other. 

And now she came, with this wistful face, to Lady 
Lucy. She stood between that lady and Marsham, in 
her own garden, without, as it seemed to Sir James, a 
thought of herself. As for him, in the midst of his own 
sharp grief, he could not help looking covertly from 
one to the other, remembering that February scene in 
Lady Lucy's drawing-room. And presently he was 
sure that Lady Lucy too remembered it. Diana tim- 
idly begged that she would take some food some 
milk or wine before her drive home. It was three 
hours incredible as it seemed since she had called 
to them in the road. Lady Lucy, looking at her, and 
[ 457 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

evidently but half conscious at first of what was 
said, suddenly coloured, and refused courteously 
but decidedly. 

'Thank you. I want nothing. I shall soon be home. 
Oliver I' 

'I go to Lytchett with Sir James, mother. Miss 
Mallory begs that you will let Mrs. Colwood take you 
home/ 

' It is very kind, but I prefer to go alone. Is my 
carriage there?' 

She spoke like the stately shadow of her normal self. 
The carriage was waiting. Lady Lucy approached Sir 
James, who was standing apart, and murmured some- 
thing in his ear, to the effect that she would come to 
Lytchett that evening, and would bring flowers. 'Let 
mine be the first/ she said, inaudibly to the rest. Sir 
James assented. Such observances, he supposed, 
count for a great deal with women; especially with 
those who are conscious of having trifled a little with 
the weightier matters of the law. 

Then Lady Lucy took her leave; Marsham saw her 
to her carriage. The two left behind watched the re- 
ceding figures the mother, bent and tottering, cling- 
ing to her son. 

'She is terribly shaken/ said Sir James; 'but she will 
never give way/ 

Diana did not reply, and as he glanced at her, he 
saw that she was struggling for self-control, her eyes 
on the ground. 

' And that woman might have had her for daughter ! ' 
he said to himself, divining in her the rebuff of some 
deep and tender instinct. 

[ 458 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marsham came back. 

'The ambulance is just arriving/ 

Sir James nodded, and turned toward the house. 
Marsham detained him, dropping his voice. 

'Let me go with him, and you take my fly/ 

Sir James frowned. 

'That is all settled/ he said, peremptorily. Then he 
looked at Diana. ' I will see to everything indoors. 
Will you take Miss Mallory into the garden?' 

Diana submitted ; though, for the first time, her face 
reddened faintly. She understood that Sir James 
wished her to be out of sight and hearing while they 
moved the dead. 

That was a strange walk together for these two! 
Side by side, almost in silence, they followed the gar- 
den path which had taken them to the downs, on a 
certain February evening. The thought of it hovered, 
a ghost unlaid, in both their minds. Instinctively, 
Marsham guided her by this path, that they might 
avoid that spot on the further lawn, where the scat- 
tered chairs, the trampled books and papers, still 
showed where Death and Sleep had descended. Yet, 
as they passed it from a distance, he saw the natural 
shudder run through her; and, by association, there 
flashed through him intolerably the memory of that 
moment of divine abandonment in their last interview, 
when he had comforted her, and she had clung to him. 
And now how near she was to him and yet how infi- 
nitely remote ! She walked beside him, her step falter- 
ing now and then, her head thrown back, as though she 
craved for air and coolness on her brow and tear-stained 
eyes. He could not flatter himself that his presence 
[ 459 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

disturbed her, that she was thinking at all about him. 
As for him, his mind, held as it still was in the grip of 
catastrophe, and stunned by new compunctions, was 
still susceptible from time to time of the most discord- 
ant and agitating recollections memories glancing 
lightning-quick, through the mind, unsummoned, and 
shattering. Her face in the moonlight, her voice in the 
great words of her promise 'all that a woman can !' 
- that wretched evening in the House of Commons 
when he had finally deserted her a certain passage 
with Alicia, in the Tallyn woods these images quiv- 
ered, as it were, through nerve and vein, disabling 
and silencing him. 

But presently, to his astonishment, Diana began to 
talk, in her natural voice, without a trace of preoccu- 
pation or embarrassment. She poured out her latest 
recollections of Ferrier. She spoke, brushing away 
her tears sometimes, of his visit in the morning, and 
his talk as he lay beside them on the grass his recent 
letters to her her remembrance of him in Italy. 

Marsham listened in silence. What she said was new 
to him, and often bitter. He had known nothing of 
this intimate relation which had sprung up so rapidly 
between her and Ferrier. While he acknowledged its 
beauty and delicacy, the very thought of it, even at 
this moment, filled him with an irritable jealousy. The 
new bond had arisen out of the wreck of those he had 
himself broken; Ferrier had turned to her, and she to 
Ferrier, just as he, by his own acts, had lost them both ; 
it might be right and natural ; he winced under it in 
a sense, resented it none the less. 

And all the time he never ceased to be conscious of 
[ 460 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the newspaper in his breast-pocket, and of that faint 
pencilled line that seemed to burn against his heart. 

Would she shrink from him, finally and irrevocably, 
if she knew it? Once or twice he looked at her curiously, 
wondering at the power that women have of filling and 
softening a situation. Her broken talk of Ferrier was 
the only possible talk that could have arisen between 
them at that moment without awkwardness, without 
risk. To that last ground of friendship she could still 
admit him, and a wounded self-love suggested that she 
chose it for his sake as well as Ferrier's. 

Of course, she had seen him with Alicia, and must 
have drawn her conclusions. Four months after the 
breach with her ! and such a breach ! As he walked 
beside her through the radiant scented garden, with 
its massed roses and delphiniums, its tangle of poppy 
and lupin, he suddenly beheld himself as a kind of out- 
cast distrusted and disliked by an old friend like 
Chide, separated for ever from the good opinion of this 
girl whom he had loved, suspected even by his mother, 
and finally crushed by this unexpected tragedy, and 
by the shock of Harrington's unpardonable behaviour. 

Then his whole being reacted in a fierce protesting 
irritation. He had been the victim of circumstance as 
much as she. His will hardened to a passionate self- 
defence ; he flung off, he held at bay, an anguish that 
must and should be conquered. He had to live his 
life. He would live it. 

They passed into the orchard, where, amid the old 
trees, covered with tiny green apples, some climbing 
roses were running at will, hanging their trails of blos- 
som, crimson and pale pink, from branch to branch. 
[ 461 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Linnets and blackbirds made a pleasant chatter; the 
grass beneath the trees was rich and soft, and through 
their tops, one saw white clouds hovering in a blazing 
blue. 

Diana turned suddenly toward the house. 

'I think we may go back now/ she said, and her 
hand contracted and her lip, as though she realised 
that her dear dead friend had left her roof for ever. 

They hurried back, but there was still time for con- 
versation. 

' You knew him, of course, from a child ? ' she said to 
him, glancing at him with timid interrogation. 

In reply he forced himself to play that part of Fer- 
rier's intimate almost son which, indeed, she had 
given him, by implication, throughout her own talk. 
In this she had shown a tact, a kindness for which he 
owed her gratitude. She must have heard the charges 
brought against him by the Ferrier party during the 
election, yet, noble creature that she was, she had not 
believed them. He could have thanked her aloud, till 
he remembered that marked newspaper in his pocket. 

Once a straggling rose branch caught in her dress. 
He stooped to free it. Then for the first time he saw 
her shrink. The instinctive service had made them 
man and woman again not mind and mind ; and he 
perceived, with a miserable throb, that she could not 
be so unconscious of his identity, his presence, their 
past, as she had seemed to be. 

She had lost he realised it the bloom of first 

youth. How thin was the hand which gathered up her 

dress ! the hand once covered with his kisses. Yet 

she seemed to him lovelier than ever, and he divined 

[ 462 ] 



The Garden, Stocks 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

^v 

her more woman than ever, more instinct with feeling, 
life, and passion. 

Sir James's messenger met them halfway. At the 
door the ambulance waited. 

Chide, bareheaded, and a group of doctors, garden- 
ers, and police stood beside it. 

'I follow you/ said Marsham to Sir James. 'There 
is a great deal to do.' 

Chide assented coldly. 'I have written to Broad- 
stone, and I have sent a preliminary statement to the 
papers/ 

'I can take anything you want to town/ said Mar- 
sham, hastily. 'I must go up this evening/ 

He handed Broadstone's telegram to Sir James. 

Chide read it and returned it in silence. Then he 
entered the ambulance, taking his seat beside the 
shrouded form within. Slowly it drove away, mounted 
police accompanying it. It took a back way from 
Beechcote, thus avoiding the crowd, which on the vil- 
lage side had gathered round the gates. 

Diana, on the steps, saw it go, following it with her 
eyes; standing very white and still. Then Marsham 
lifted his hat to her, conscious through every nerve of 
the curiosity among the little group of people standing 
by. Suddenly he thought she too divined it. For she 
looked round her, bowed to him slightly, and disap- 
peared with Mrs. Col wood. 

He spent two or three hours at Lytchett, making the 
first arrangements for the funeral, with Sir James. It 
was to be at Tallyn, and the burial in the churchyard 
[ 463 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

of the old Tallyn church. Sir James gave a slow and 
grudging assent to this ; but in the end he did assent, 
after the relations between him and Marsham had be- 
come still more strained. 

Further statements were drawn up for the news- 
papers. As the afternoon, wore on the grounds and 
hall of Lytchett betrayed the presence of a number of 
reporters, hurriedly sent thither by the chief London 
and provincial papers. By now the news had travelled 
through England. 

Marsham worked hard, saving Sir James all he could. 
Another messenger arrived from Lord Broadstone 
with a pathetic letter for Sir James. Chide 's face dark- 
ened over it. 'Broadstone must bear up/ he said to 
Marsham, as they stood together in Chide 's sanctum. 
' It was not his fault, and he has the country to think 
of. You tell him so. Now, are you off?' 

Marsham replied that his fly had been announced. 

'What '11 they offer you?' said Chide, abruptly. 

' Offer me? It does n't much matter, does it? on 
a day like this?' Marsham 's tone was equally curt. 
Then he added, 'I shall be here again to-morrow.' 

Chide acquiesced. When Marsham had driven off, 
and as the sound of the wheels died away, Chide ut- 
tered a fierce inarticulate sound. His hot Irish heart 
swelled within him. He walked hurriedly to and fro, 
his hands in his pockets. 

'John! John! ' he groaned. 'They'll be dancing 
and triumphing on your grave to-night, John ; and that 
fellow you were a father to like the rest. But they 
shall do it without me, John they shall do it with- 
out me ! ' 

[ 464 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

And he thought, with a grim satisfaction, of the note 
he had just confided to the Premier's second messen- 
ger refusing the offer of the Attorney-Generalship. 
He was sorry for Broadstone ; he had done his best to 
comfort him ; but he would serve in no Government 
with John's supplanters. 

Meanwhile Marsham was speeding up to town. At 
every wayside station, under the evening light, he saw 
the long lines of placards : ' Sudden death of Mr. Fer- 
rier. Effect on the new Ministry.' Every paper he 
bought was full of comments and hasty biographies. 
There was more than a conventional note of loss in 
them. Ferrier was not widely popular, in the sense 
in which many English statesmen have been popular, 
but there was something in his personality that had 
long since won the affection and respect of all that 
public, in all classes, which really observes and directs 
English affairs. He was sincerely mourned, and he 
would be practically missed. 

But the immediate effect would be the triumph of 
the Cave, a new direction given to current politics. 
That no one doubted. 

Marsham was lost in tumultuous thought. The 
truth was that the two articles in the Herald of that 
morning, which had arrived at Tallyn by nine o'clock, 
had struck him with nothing less than consternation. 

Ever since his interview with Barrington, he had 
persuaded himself that in it he had laid the founda- 
tions of party reunion ; and he had since been eagerly 
scanning the signs of slow change in the attitude of 
the party paper, combined as they had been up to 
[ 465 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

this very day with an unbroken personal loyalty to 
Ferrier. But the article of this morning had shown 
a complete and in Oliver's opinion, as he read it 
at the breakfast-table an extravagant volte-face. It 
amounted to nothing less than a vehement appeal to 
the new Prime Minister to entrust the leadership of the 
House of Commons, at so critical a moment, to a man 
more truly in sympathy with the forward policy of the 
party. 

'We have hoped against hope/ said the Herald; 'we 
have supported Mr. Ferrier against all opposition ; but 
a careful reconsideration and analysis of his latest 
speeches taken together with our general knowledge, 
public and private, of the political situation have 
convinced us, sorely against our will, that whilst Mr. 
Ferrier must, of course, hold one of the most import- 
ant offices in the new Cabinet, his leadership of the 
Commons in view of the two great measures to 
which the party is practically pledged could only 
bring calamity. He will not oppose them; that, of 
course, we know ; but is it possible that he can fight 
them through with success? We appeal to his patriot- 
ism, which has never yet failed him or us. If he will 
only accept the peerage he has so amply earned, to- 
gether with either the War Office or the Admiralty, and 
represent the Government in the Lords, where it is 
sorely in need of strength, all will be well. The leader- 
ship of the Commons must necessarily fall to that sec- 
tion of the party which, through Lord Philip's aston- 
ishing campaign, has risen so rapidly in public favour. 
Lord Philip himself, indeed, is no more acceptable 
to the moderates than Mr. Ferrier to the Left Wing. 
[ 466 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Heat of personal feeling alone would prevent his filling 
the part successfully. But two or three men are named, 
under whom Lord Philip would be content to serve, 
while the moderates would have nothing to say against 
them/ 

This was damaging enough. But far more serious 
was the 'communicated' article on the next page 
'from a correspondent' --on which the 'leader' was 
based. 

Marsham saw at once that the 'correspondent' was 
really Barrington himself, and that the article was 
wholly derived from the conversation which had taken 
place at Tally n, and from the portions of Ferrier's 
letters, which Marsham had read or summarised for 
the journalist's benefit. 

The passage in particular which Ferrier's dying 
hand had marked he recalled the gleam in Barring- 
ton's black eyes as he had listened to it, the instinctive 
movement in his powerful hand, as though to pounce, 
vulture-like, on the letter and his own qualm of 
anxiety his sudden sense of having gone too far 
his insistence on discretion. 

Discretion indeed ! The whole thing was monstrous 
treachery. He had warned the man that these few 
sentences were not to be taken literally that they 
were, in fact, Ferrier's caricature of himself and his 
true opinion. 'You press on me a particular measure/ 
they said, in effect, ' you expect the millennium from it. 
Well, I '11 tell you what you '11 really get by it !' - - and 
then a forecast of the future, after the great Bill was 
passed, in Ferrier's most biting vein. 

The passage in the Herald was given as a paraphrase 
[ 467 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

or, rather, as a kind of reductio ad absurdum of one of 
Ferrier's last speeches in the House. It was, in truth, 
a literal quotation from one of the letters. Barrington 
had an excellent memory. He had omitted nothing. 
The stolen sentences made the point, the damning 
point, of the article. They were not exactly quoted as 
Ferrier 's, but they claimed to express Ferrier more 
closely than he had yet expressed himself. 'We have 
excellent reason to believe that this is, in truth, the 
attitude of Mr. Ferrier/ How, then, could a man of so 
cold and sceptical a temper continue to lead the young 
reformers of the party? The Herald, with infinite re- 
gret, made its bow to its old leader, and went over bag 
and baggage to the camp of Lord Philip, who, Mar- 
sham could not doubt, had been in close consultation 
with the editor through the whole business. 

Again and again, as the train sped on, did Marsham 
go back over the fatal interview which had led to these 
results. His mind, full of an agony of remorse he could 
not still, was full also of storm and fury against Bar- 
rington. Never had a journalist made a more shame- 
ful use of a trust reposed in him. 

With torturing clearness, imagination built up the 
scene in the garden : the arrival of Broadstone's letter ; 
the hand of the stricken man groping for the news- 
paper ; the effort of those pencilled lines ; and, finally, 
that wavering mark, John Ferrier's last word on earth. 

If it had, indeed, been meant for him, Oliver well, 
he had received it ; the dead man had reached out and 
touched him ; he felt the brand upon him ; and it was 
a secret for ever between Ferrier and himself. 

The train was nearing St. Pancras. Marsham roused 
[ 468 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

himself with an effort. After all, what fault was it of 
his this tragic coincidence of a tragic day? If Fer- 
rier had lived, all could have been explained ; or if not 
all, most. And because Ferrier had died of a sudden 
ailment, common among men worn out with high re- 
sponsibilities, was a man to go on reproaching himself 
eternally for another man's vile behaviour for the 
results of an indiscretion committed with no ill-intent 
whatever? With miserable self-control, Oliver turned 
his mind to his approaching interview with the Prime 
Minister. Up to the morning of this awful day he had 
been hanging on the Cabinet news from hour to hour. 
The most important posts would, of course, be filled 
first. Afterwards would come the minor appointments 
and then ! 

Marsham found the Premier much shaken. He was 
an old man ; he had been a warm personal friend of 
Ferrier's ; and the blow had hit him hard. 

Evidently for a few hours he had been determined to 
resign ; but strong influences had been brought to bear, 
and he had wearily resumed his task. 

Reluctantly, Marsham told the story. Poor Lord 
Broadstone could not escape from the connexion be- 
tween the arrival of his letter and the seizure which 
had killed his old comrade. He sat bowed beneath it 
for a while ; then, with a fortitude and a self-control 
which never fails men of his type in times of public 
stress and difficulty, he roused himself to discuss the 
political situation which had arisen so far, at least, 
as was necessary and fitting in the case of a man not 
in the inner circle. 

[ 469 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

As the two men sat talking the messenger arrived 
from Beechcote with Sir James Chicle's letter. From 
the Premier's expression as he laid it down Marsham 
divined that it contained Chide's refusal to join the 
Government. Lord Broadstone got up and began to 
move to and fro, wrapped in a cloud of thought. He 
seemed to forget Marsham 's presence, and Marsham 
made a movement to go. As he did so Lord Broad- 
stone looked up and came toward him. 

'I am much obliged to you for having come so 
promptly/ he said, with melancholy courtesy. 'I 
thought we should have met soon on an occasion 
more agreeable to us both. As you are here, forgive 
me if I talk business. This rough-and-tumble world 
has to be carried on, and if it suits you, I shall be 
happy to recommend your appointment to Her Maj- 
esty as a Junior Lord of the Treasury carrying 
with it, as of course you understand, the office of 
Second Whip/ 

Ten minutes later Marsham left the Prime Minis- 
ter's house. As he walked back to St. Pancras, he was 
conscious of yet another smart added to the rest. If 
anything were offered to him, he had certainly hoped 
for something more considerable. 

It looked as though while the Ferrier influence had 
ignored him, the Darcy influence had not troubled it- 
self to do much for him. That he had claims could not 
be denied. So this very meagre bone had been flung 
him. But if he had refused it, he would have got no- 
thing else. 

The appointment would involve re-election. All 
that infernal business to go through again! prob- 
[ 470 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ably in the very midst of disturbances in the mining 
district. The news from the collieries was as bad as it 
could be. 

He reached home very late close on midnight. 
His mother had gone to bed, ill and worn out, and was 
not to be disturbed. Isabel Fotheringham and Alicia 
awaited him in the drawing-room. 

Mrs. Fotheringham had arrived in the course of the 
evening. She herself was peevish with fatigue, in- 
curred in canvassing for two of Lord Philip's most 
headlong supporters. Personally, she had broken with 
John Ferrier some weeks before the election ; but the 
fact had made more impression on her own mind than 
on his. 

'Well, Oliver, this is a shocking thing! However, 
of course, Ferrier had been unhealthy for a long time ; 
any one could see that. It was really better it should 
end so/ 

'You take it calmly!' he said, scandalised by her 
manner and tone. 

'I am sorry, of course. But Ferrier had outlived 
himself. The people I have been working among felt 
him merely in the way. But, of course, I am sorry 
mamma is dreadfully upset. That one must expect. 
Well, now then you have seen Broadstone?' 

She rose to question him, the political passion in her 
veins asserting itself against her weariness. She was 
still in her travelling-dress. From her small, haggard 
face the reddish hair was drawn tightly back; the 
spectacled eyes, the dry lips, expressed a woman whose 
life had hardened to dusty uses. Her mere aspect 
[ 471 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

chilled and repelled her brother, and he answered her 
questions shortly. 

'Broadstone has treated you shabbily!' she re- 
marked, with decision ; 'but I suppose you will have to 
put up with it. And this terrible thing that has hap- 
pened to-day may tell against you when it comes to the 
election. Ferrier will be looked upon as a martyr, and 
we shall suffer.' 

Oliver turned his eyes for relief to Alicia. She, in 
a soft black dress, with many slender chains, studded 
with beautiful turquoises, about her white neck, 
rested and cheered his sight. The black was for sym- 
pathy with the family sorrow ; the turquoises were there 
because he specially admired them; he understood 
them both. The night was hot, and without teasing 
him with questions she had brought him a glass of iced 
lemonade, touching him caressingly on the arm while 
he drank it. 

'Poor Mr. Ferrier! It was terribly, terribly sad!' 
Her voice was subtly tuned and pitched. It made no 
fresh claim on emotion, of which, in his mental and 
moral exhaustion, he had none to give; but it more 
than met the decencies of the situation, which Isabel 
had flouted. 

'So there will be another election?' she said, pre- 
sently, still standing in front of him, erect and pro- 
vocative, her eyes fixed on his. 

' Yes ; but I shan't be such a brute as to bother you 
with it this time/ 

'I shall decide that for myself/ she said, lightly. 
Then after a pause : ' So Lord Philip has won ! all 
along the line ! I should like to know that man ! ' 
[ 472 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'You do know him/ 

'Oh, just to pass the time of day. That's nothing. 
But I am to meet him at the Treshams' next week/ 

Her eyes sparkled a little. Marsham glanced at his 
sister, who was gathering up some small possessions 
at the end of the room. 

' Don't try and make a fool of him ! ' he said, in a low 
voice. 'He's not your sort/ 

' Is n't he ? ' She laughed. ' I suppose he 's one of the 
biggest men in England now. And somebody told me 
the other day that, after losing two or three fortunes, 
he had just got another/ 

Marsham nodded. 

'Altogether, an excellent parti. 9 

Alicia's infectious laugh broke out. She sat down 
beside him, with her hands round her knees. 

' You look miles better than when you came in. But 
I think you'd better go to bed/ 

As Marsham, in undressing, flung his coat upon a 
chair, the copy of the Herald which he had moment- 
arily forgotten fell out of the inner pocket. He raised 
it irresolute. Should he tear it up, and throw the 
fragments away? 

No. He could not bring himself to do it. It was as 
though Ferrier, lying still and cold at Lytchett, would 
know of it as though the act would do some rough- 
ness to the dead. 

He went into his sitting-room, found an empty 
drawer in his writing-table, thrust in the newspaper, 
and closed the drawer. 



CHAPTER XX 

I REGARD this second appeal to West Brookshire as 
an insult ! ' said the Vicar of Beechcote, hotly. ' If Mr. 
Marsham must needs accept an office that involved re- 
election he might have gone elsewhere. I see there is 
already a vacancy by death and a Liberal seat, too 
in Sussex. We told him pretty plainly what we 
thought of him last time.' 

'And now I suppose you will turn him out?' asked 
the Doctor, lazily. 

In the beatitude induced by a completed article 
and an afternoon smoke, he was for the moment in- 
capable of taking a tragic view either of Marsham 's 
shortcomings or his prospects. 

'Certainly, we shall turn him out/ 

' Ah ! a Labour candidate ? ' said the Doctor, show- 
ing a little more energy. 

Whereupon the Vicar, with as strong a relish for the 
primeur of an important piece of news as any secular 
fighter, described a meeting held the night before in one 
of the mining villages, at which he had been a speaker. 
The meeting had decided to run a miners' candidate ; 
expenses had been guaranteed ; and the resolution 
passed meant, according to Lavery, that Marsham 
would be badly beaten, and that Colonel Simpson, 
his Conservative opponent, would be handsomely pre- 
sented with a seat in Parliament, to which his own 
personal merits had no claim whatever. 
[ 474 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'But that we put up with/ said the Vicar, grimly. 
'The joy of turning out Marsham is compensation/ 

The Doctor turned an observant eye on his com- 
panion's clerical coat. 

' Shall we hear these sentiments next Sunday from 
the pulpit?' he asked, mildly. 

The Vicar had the grace to blush slightly. 

'I say, no doubt, more than I should say/ he ad- 
mitted. Then he rose, buttoning his long coat down his 
long body deliberately, as though by the action he 
tried to restrain the surge within ; but it overflowed 
all the same. 'I know now/ he said, with a kindling 
eye, holding out a gaunt hand in farewell, 'what our 
Lord meant by sending, not peace but a sword ! ' 

' So, no doubt, did Torquemada ! ' replied the Doctor, 
surveying him. 

The Vicar rose to the challenge. 

'I will be no party to the usual ignorant abuse of 
the Inquisition/ he said, firmly. 'We live in days of 
licence, and have no right to sit in judgement on our 
forefathers/ 

'Your forefathers/ corrected the Doctor. 'Mine 
burnt/ 

The Vicar first laughed; then grew serious. 'Well, 
I '11 allow you two opinions on the Inquisition, but not ' 
he lifted a gesticulating hand ' not two opinions 
on mines which are death-traps for lack of a little 
money to make them safe not on the kind of tyr- 
anny which says to a man, " Strike if you like, and take 
a Week's notice at the same time to give up your cot- 
tage, which belongs to the colliery" or, "Make a 
fuss about allotments if you dare, and see how long 
[ 475 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

you keep your berth in my employment: we don't 
want any agitators here" or maintains, against all 
remonstrance, a brutal manager in office, whose rule 
crushes out a man's self-respect, and embitters his 
soul!' 

'You charge all these things against Marsham?' 

'He or, rather, his mother has a large holding 
in collieries against which I charge them/ 

'H'm. Lady Lucy isn't standing for West Brook- 
shire.' 

'No matter. The son's teeth are set on edge. Mar- 
sham has been appealed to, and has done nothing 

attempted nothing. He makes eloquent Liberal 
speeches, and himself spends money got by grinding 
the poor!' 

' You make him out a greater fool than I believe him/ 
said the Doctor. ' He has probably attempted a great 
deal, and finds his power limited. Moreover, he has 
been eight years Member here, and these charges are 
quite new.' 

'Because the spirit abroad is new!' cried the Vicar. 
'Men will no longer bear what their fathers bore. The 
old excuses, the old pleas, serve no longer. I tell you 
the poor are tired of their patience! The Kingdom of 
Heaven, in its earthly aspect, is not to be got that way 

no ! " The violent take it by force ! ' ' And as to your 
remark about Marsham, half the champions of demo- 
cracy in this country are in the same box: prating 
about liberty and equality abroad; grinding their 
servants and under-paying their labourers at home. 
I know scores of them ; and how any of them keep 
a straight face at a public meeting I never could un- 

[ 476 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

derstand. There is a French proverb that exactly ex- 
presses them - 

'I know/ murmured the Doctor; 'I know. " Joie de 
rue, doukur de maison." Well, and so, to upset Mar- 
sham, you are going to let the Tories in, eh? with 
all the old tyrannies and briberies on their shoulders? 
naked and unashamed. Hullo ! ' he looked round 
him 'don't tell Patricia I said so or Hugh/ 

'There is no room for a middle party/ was the 
Vicar's fierce reply. ' Socialists on the one side, Tories 
on the other! that'll be the Armageddon of the 
future/ 

The Doctor, declining to be drawn, nodded placidly 
through the clouds of smoke that enwrapped him. The 
Vicar hurried away, accompanied, however, furtively 
to the door, even to the gate of the drive, by Mrs. 
Roughsedge, who had questions to ask. She came 
back presently with a thoughtful countenance. 

' I asked him what he thought I ought to do about 
those tales I told you of/ 

'Why don't you settle for yourself?' cried the Doc- 
tor, testily. 'That is the way you women flatter the 
pride of these priests ! ' 

'Not at all. You make him talk nonsense; I find 
him a fount of wisdom/ 

'I admit he knows some moral theology/ said 
Roughsedge, thoughtfully. 'He has thought a good 
deal about "sins" and "sin." Well, what was his view 
about these particular "sinners"?' 

'He thinks Diana ought to know/ 

'She can't do any good, and it will keep her awake 
at nights. I object altogether/ 
[ 477 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

However, Mrs. Roughsedge, having first dropped a 
pacifying kiss on her husband's grey hair, went up- 
stairs to put on her things, declaring that she was going 
there and then to Beechcote. 

The Doctor was left to ponder over the gossip in 
question, and what Diana could possibly do to meet it. 
Poor child ! was she never to be free from scandal 
and publicity? 

As to the couple of people involved Fred Birch 
and that odious young woman Miss Fanny Merton 

he did not care in the least what happened to 
them. And he could not see, for the life of him, why 
Diana should care either. But of course she would. In 
her ridiculous way, she would think she had some kind 
of responsibility, just because the girl's mother and her 
mother happened to have been brought up in the same 
nursery. 

'A plague on Socialist vicars, and a plague on dear 
good women!' thought the Doctor, knocking out his 
pipe. 'What with philanthropy and this delicate al- 
truism that takes the life out of women, the world be- 
comes a kind of impenetrable jungle, in which every- 
body's business is intertwined with everybody else's, 
and there is nobody left with primitive brutality 
enough to hew a way through ! And those of us that 
might lead a decent life on this ill-arranged planet are 
all crippled and hamstrung by what we call unself- 
ishness.' The Doctor vigorously replenished his pipe. 
'I vow I will go to Greece next spring, and leave 
Patricia behind!' 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Roughsedge walked to Beechcote 

in meditation. The facts she pondered were these, 

[ 478 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to put them as shortly as possible. Fred Birch was fast 
becoming the mauvais sujet of the district. His prac- 
tice was said to be gone, his money affairs were in 
a desperate condition, and his mother and sister had 
already taken refuge with relations. He had had re- 
course to the time-honoured expedients of his type: 
betting on horses and on stocks with other people's 
money. It was said that he had kept on the safe side of 
the law; but one or two incidents in his career had 
emerged to light quite recently, which had led all the 
scrupulous in Dunscombe to close their doors upon 
him ; and as he had no means of bribing the unscrupu- 
lous, he had now become a mere object-lesson for babes 
as to the advantages of honesty. 

At the same time, Miss Fanny Merton, first intro- 
duced to Brookshire by Brookshire 's favourite, Diana 
Mallory, was constantly to be seen in the black sheep's 
company. They had been observed together, both in 
London and the country at race-meetings and the- 
atres; and a brawl in the Dunscombe refreshment- 
room, late at night, in which Birch had been involved, 
brought out the scandalous fact that Miss Merton was 
in his company. Birch was certainly not sober, and it 
was said by the police that Miss Merton also had had 
more port wine than was good for her. 

All this Brookshire knew, and none of it did Diana 
know. Since her return she and Mrs. Colwood had 
lived so quietly within their own borders that the talk 
of the neighbourhood rarely reached her, and those 
persons who came in contact with her were far too 
deeply touched by the signs of suffering in the girl's 
face and manner to breathe a word that might cause 
[ 479 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her fresh pain. Brookshire knew, through one or other 
of the mysterious channels by which such news travels, 
that the two cousins were uncongenial ; that it was 
Fanny Merton who had revealed to Diana her mother's 
history, and in an abrupt, unfeeling way; and that the 
two girls were not now in communication. Fanny had 
been boarding with friends in Bloomsbury, and was 
supposed to be returning to her family in Barbadoes 
in the autumn. 

The affair at the refreshment-room was to be heard 
of at Petty Sessions, and would, therefore, get into the 
local papers. Mrs. Roughsedge felt there was nothing 
for it ; Diana must be told. But she hated her task. 

On reaching Beechcote she noticed a fly at the door, 
and paused a moment to consider whether her visit 
might not be inopportune. It was a beautiful day, and 
Diana and Mrs. Colwood were probably to be found in 
some corner of the garden. Mrs. Roughsedge walked 
round the side of the house to reconnoitre. 

As she reached the beautiful old terrace at the back 
of the house, on which the drawing-room opened, sud- 
denly a figure came flying through the drawing-room 
window the figure of a girl in a tumbled muslin dress, 
with a large hat, and a profusion of feathers and 
streamers fluttering about her. In her descent upon 
the terrace she dropped her gloves ; stooping to pick 
them up, she dropped her boa ; in her struggle to recap- 
ture that, she trod on and tore her dress. 

'Damn! 1 said the young lady, furiously. 

And at the voice, the word, the figure, Mrs. Rough- 
sedge stood arrested and open-mouthed, her old wo- 
man's bonnet slipping back a little on her grey curls. 
[ 480 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

The young woman was Fanny Merton. She had 
evidently just arrived, and was in search of Diana. 
Mrs. Roughsedge thought a moment, and then turned 
and sadly walked home again. No good interfering 
now ! Poor Diana would have to tackle the situation 
for herself. 

Diana and Mrs. Col wood were on the lawn, surrep- 
titiously at work on clothes for the child in the spinal 
jacket, who was soon going away to a convalescent 
home, and had to be rigged out. The grass was strewn 
with pieces of printed cotton and flannel, with books 
and work-baskets. But they were not sitting where 
Ferrier had looked his last upon the world three weeks 
before. There, under the tall limes, across the lawn, on 
that sad and sacred spot, Diana meant in the autumn 
to plant a group of cypresses (the tree of mourning) 
'for remembrance/ 

'Fanny!' cried Diana, in amaze'ment, rising from 
her chair. 

At her cousin's voice, Fanny halted, a few yards 
away. 'Well/ she said, defiantly, 'of course I know 
you did n't expect to see me ! ' 

Diana had grown very pale. Muriel saw a shiver 
run through her the shiver of the victim brought 
once more into the presence of the torturer. 

'I thought you were in London/ she stammered, 
moving forward and holding out her hand mechan- 
ically. 'Please come and sit down/ She cleared a chair 
of the miscellaneous needlework upon it. 

'I want to speak to you very particularly,' said 
Fanny. 'And it's private!' She looked at Mrs. Col- 
[ 481 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

wood, with whom she had exchanged a frosty greeting. 
Diana made a little imploring sign, and Muriel un- 
willingly moved away toward the house. 

'Well, I don't suppose you want to have anything to 
do with me/ said Fanny, after a moment, in a sulky 
voice. 'But, after all, you're mother's niece. I'm in 
a pretty tight fix, and it might n't be very pleasant for 
you if things came to the worst/ 

She had thrown off her hat, and was patting and 
pulling the numerous puffs and bandeaux, in which her 
hair was arranged, with a nervous hand. Diana was 
aghast at her appearance. The dirty finery of her dress 
had sunk many degrees in the scale of decency and re- 
finement since February. Her staring brunette colour 
had grown patchy and unhealthy, her eyes had a fur- 
tive audacity, her lips a coarseness, which might have 
been always there ; but in the winter, youth and high 
spirits had to some extent disguised them. 

'Are n't you soon going home?' asked Diana, look- 
ing at her with a troubled brow. 

' No, I'm I'm engaged. I thought you might 
have known that !' The girl turned fiercely upon her. 

'No I had n't heard' 

' Well I don't know where you live all your time ! ' 
said Fanny, impatiently. 'There's heaps of people at 
Dunscombe know that I've been engaged to Fred 
Birch for three months. I was n't going to write to 
you, of course, because I well ! I knew you 
thought I'd been rough on you about that you 
know/ 

'Fred Birch!' Diana's voice was faltering and 
amazed. 

[ 482 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Fanny twisted her hat in her hands. 

'He's all right/ she said, angrily, 'if his business 
had n't been ruined by a lot of nasty crawling tale- 
tellers. If people 'd only mind their own business ! 
However, there it is he's ruined he has n't got 
a penny piece and, of course, he can't marry me, if 
well, if somebody don't help us out.' 

Diana's face changed. 

'Do you mean that I should help you out?' 

'Well, there's no one else!' said Fanny, still, as it 
seemed, defying something or some one. 

'I gave you a thousand pounds.' 

' You gave it mother ! I got precious little of it. I ' ve 
had to borrow, lately, from people in the boarding- 
house. And I can't get any more there! I'm just 
broke stony/ 

She was still looking straight before her, but her lip 
trembled. 

Diana bent forward impetuously. 

'Fanny!' she said, laying her hand on her cousin's, 
'do go home!' 

Fanny's lip continued to tremble. 

'I tell you I'm engaged/ she repeated, in a muffled 
voice. 

' Don't marry him ! ' cried Diana, imploringly. ' He 's 
not he's not a good man/ 

'What do you know about it? He's well enough, 
though I dare say he 's not your sort. He 'd be all right 
if somebody would just lend a hand help him with 
the debts, and put him on his feet again. He suits me, 
anyway. I'm not so thin-skinned.' 

Diana stiffened. Fanny's manner as of old was 
[ 483 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

almost incredible, considered as the manner of one in 
difficulties asking for help. The sneering insolence of 
it inevitably provoked the person addressed. 

'Have you told Aunt Bertha?' she said, coldly 
'asked her consent?' 

'Mother? Oh, I've told her I'm engaged. She 
knows very well that I manage my own business.' 

Diana withdrew her chair a little. 

'When are you going to be married? Are you still 
with those friends?' 

Fanny laughed. 

'Oh, Lord, no! I fell out with them long ago. They 
were a wretched lot ! But I found a girl I knew, and 
we set up together. I 've been in a blouse-shop earning 
thirty shillings a week there ! And if I had n't, I 'd 
have starved!' 

Fanny raised her head. Their eyes met: Fanny's 
full of mingled bravado and misery ; Diana's suddenly 
stricken with deep and remorseful distress. 

' Fanny, I told you to write to me if there was any- 
thing wrong! Why did n't you?' 

' You hated me ! ' said Fanny, sullenly. 

'I did n't!' cried Diana, the tears rising to her eyes. 
' But you hurt me so ! ' Then again she bent for- 
ward, laying her hand on her cousin's, speaking fast 
and low. ' Fanny, I 'm very sorry ! if I 'd known you 
were in trouble I 'd have come or written I thought 
you were with friends, and I knew the money had been 
paid. But, Fanny, I implore you ! give up Mr. Birch ! 
Nobody speaks well of him! You'll be miserable! - 
you must be!' 

'Too late to think of that!' said Fanny, doggedly. 
[ 484 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Diana looked up in sudden terror. Fanny tried to 
brazen it out. But all the patchy colour left her cheeks, 
and, dropping her head on her hands, she began to sob. 
Yet even the sobs were angry. 

' I can go and drown myself ! ' she said, passionately, 
'and I suppose I 'd better. Nobody cares whether I do 
or not! He's made a fool of me I don't suppose 
mother '11 take me home again. And if he does n't 
marry me, I '11 kill myself somehow it don't matter 
how before I ' ve got to ! ' 

Diana had dropped on her knees beside her visitor. 
Unconsciously pitifully she breathed her cousin's 
name. 

Fanny looked up. She wrenched herself violently 
away. 

'Oh, it's all very well! but we can't all be such 
saints as you. It'd be all right if he married me 
directly directly/ she repeated, hurriedly. 

Diana knelt still immoveable. In her face was that 
agonised shock and recoil with which the young and 
pure, the tenderly cherished and guarded, receive the 
first withdrawal of the veil which hides from them 
the more brutal facts of life. But, as she knelt there, 
gazing at Fanny, another expression stole upon and 
effaced the first. Taking shape and body, as it were, 
from the experience of the moment, there rose into 
sight the new soul developed in her by this tragic year. 
Not for her not for Juliet Sparling's daughter the 
plea of cloistered innocence! By a sharp transition 
her youth had passed from the Chamber of Maiden 
Thought into the darkened Chamber of Experience. 
She had steeped her heart in the waters of sin and suf- 
[ 485 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

fering ; she put from her in an instant the mere maiden 
panic which had drawn her to her knees. 

'Fanny, I'll help you! 7 she said, in a low voice, 
putting her arms round her cousin. ' Don't cry I '11 
help you.' 

Fanny raised her head. In Diana's face there was 
something which, for the first time, roused in the other 
a nascent sense of shame. The colour came rushing 
into her cheeks ; her eyes wavered painfully. 

'You must come and stay here/ said Diana, almost 
in a whisper. 'And where is Mr. Birch? I must see 
him.' 

She rose as she spoke; her voice had a decision, a 
sternness, that Fanny for once did not resent. But she 
shook her head despairingly. 

' I can't get at him. He sends my letters back. He '11 
not marry me unless he's paid to.' 

'When did you see him last?' 

Gradually the whole story emerged. The man had 
behaved as the coarse and natural man face to face 
with temptation and opportunity is likely to behave. 
The girl had been the victim first and foremost of her 
own incredible folly. And Diana could not escape the 
idea that on Birch's side there had not been wanting 
from the first an element of sinister calculation. If her 
relations objected to the situation, it could, of course, 
be made worth his while to change it. All his recent 
sayings and doings, as Fanny reported them, clearly 
bore this interpretation. 

As Diana sat, dismally pondering, an idea flashed 
upon her. Sir James Chide was to dine at Beechcote 
that night. He was expected early, would take Beech- 
[ 486 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

cote, indeed, on his way from the train to Lytchett. 
Who else should advise her if not he? In a hundred 
ways, practical and tender, he had made her under- 
stand that, for her mother's sake and her own, she 
was to him as a daughter. 

She mentioned him to Fanny. 

'Of course' --she hurried over the words 'we 
need only say that you have been engaged. We must 
consult him, I suppose, about about breach of pro- 
mise of marriage/ 

The odious, hearsay phrase came out with difficulty. 
But Fanny's eyes glistened at the name of the great 
lawyer. 

Her feelings toward the man who had betrayed her 
were clearly a medley of passion and of hatred. She 
loved him as she was able to love ; and she wished, at 
the same time, to coerce and be revenged on him. The 
momentary sense of shame had altogether passed. It 
was Diana who, with burning cheeks, stipulated that, 
while Fanny must not return to town, but must stay at 
Beechcote till matters were arranged, she should not 
appear during Sir James's visit ; and it was Fanny who 
said, with vindictive triumph, as Diana left her in her 
room; 'Sir James '11 know well enough what sort of 
damages I could get!' 

After dinner Diana and Sir James walked up and 
down the lime-walk in the August moonlight. His 
affection, as soon as he saw her, had been conscious of 
yet another strain upon her, but till she began to talk 
to him t$te-d-t&te he got no clue to it; and even then 
what he guessed had very little to do with what she 
[ 487 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

said. She told her cousin's story so far as she meant to 
tell it with complete self-possession. Her cousin was in 
love with this wretched man, and had got herself ter- 
ribly talked about. She could not be persuaded to give 
him up, while he could only be induced to marry her by 
the prospect of money. Could Sir James see him and 
find out how much would content him, and whether 
any decent employment could be found for him? 

Sir James held his peace, except for the ' Yeses' and 
' Noes ' that Diana's conversation demanded . He would 
certainly interview the young man ; he was very sorry 
for. her anxieties; he would see what could be done. 

Meanwhile, he never communicated to her that he 
had travelled down to Beechcote in the same carriage 
with Lady Felton, the county gossip, and that in addi- 
tion to other matters of which more anon the 
refreshment-room story had been discussed between 
them, with additions and ramifications leading to very 
definite conclusions in any rational mind as to the 
nature of the bond between Diana's cousin and the 
young Dunscombe solicitor. Lady Felton had ex- 
pressed her concern for Miss Mallory. ' Poor thing ! - 
do you think she knows? Why on earth did she ever 
ask him to Beechcote ! Alicia Drake told me she saw 
him there.' 

These things Sir James did not disclose. He played 
Diana's game with perfect discretion. He guessed 
even that Fanny was in the house, but he said not a 
word. No need at all to question the young woman. If 
in such a case he could not get round a rascally solicitor, 
what could he do? and what was the good of being 
the leader of the criminal Bar? 
[ 488 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Only when Diana, at the end of their walk, shyly 
remarked that money was not to stand in the way; 
that she had plenty ; that Beechcote was no doubt too 
expensive for her, but that the tenancy was only a 
yearly one, and she had but to give notice at Michael- 
mas, which she thought of doing only then did Sir 
James allow himself a laugh. 

' You think I am going to let this business turn you 
out of Beechcote eh? - - ydu preposterous little 
angel!' 

'Not this business/ stammered Diana; 'but I am 
really living at too great a rate/ 

Sir James grinned, patted her ironically on the 
shoulder, told her to be a good girl, and departed. 

Fanny stayed for a week at Beechcote, and at the 
end of that time Diana and Mrs. Col wood accompanied 
her on a Saturday to town, and she was married, to a 
sheepish and sulky bridegroom, by special licence, at 
a Marylebone church Sir James Chide, in the back- 
ground, looking on. They departed for a three days' 
holiday to Brighton, and on the fourth day they were 
due to sail by a West Indian steamer for Barbadoes, 
where Sir James had procured for Mr. Frederick Birch 
a post in the office of a large sugar estate, in which an 
old friend of Chide 's had an interest. Fanny showed no 
rapture in the prospect of thus returning to the bosom 
of her family. But there was no help for it. 

By what means the transformation scene had been 

effected it would be waste of time to inquire. Much to 

Diana's chagrin, Sir James entirely declined to allow 

her to aid in it financially, except so far as equipping 

[ 489 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her cousin with clothes went, and providing her with 
a small sum for her wedding- journey. Personally, he 
considered that the week during which Fanny stayed 
at Beechcote was as much as Diana could be expected 
to contribute, and that she had indeed paid the lion's 
share. 

Yet that week if he had known was full of 
strange comfort to Diana. Often Muriel, watching her, 
would escape to her* own room to hide her tears. 
Fanny's second visit was not as her first. The first had 
seen the outraging and repelling of the nobler nature 
by the ignoble. Diana had frankly not been able to 
endure her cousin. There was not a trace of that now. 
Her father's papers had told her abundantly how 
flimsy, how nearly fraudulent, was the financial claim 
which Fanny and her belongings had set up. The 
thousand pounds had been got practically on false 
pretences, and Diana knew it now, in every detail. 
Yet neither toward that, nor toward Fanny's other 
and worse lapses, did she show any bitterness, any 
spirit of mere disgust and reprobation. The last vestige 
of that just, instinctive pharisaism which clothes an 
unstained youth had dropped from her. As the heir of 
her mother's fate, she had gone down into the dark sea 
of human wrong and misery, and she had emerged 
transformed, more akin by far to the wretched and the. 
unhappy than to the prosperous and the untempted, so 
that, through all repulsion and shock, she took Fanny 
now as she found her bearing with her accepting 
her loving her, as far as she could. At the last even 
that stubborn nature was touched. When Diana 
kissed her after the wedding, with a few tremulous 
[ 490 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

good wishes, Fanny's gulp was not all excitement. 
Yet it must still be recorded that on the wedding-day 
Fanny was in the highest spirits, only marred by some 
annoyance that she had let Diana persuade her to be 
married in a travelling-dress. 

Diana's preoccupation with this matter carried her 
through the first week of Marsham 's second campaign, 
and deadened so far the painful effect of the contest 
now once more thundering through the division. For 
it was even a more odious battle than the first had been. 
In the first place, the moderate Liberals held a meeting 
very early in the struggle, with Sir William Felton in 
the chair, to protest against the lukewarm support 
which Marsham had given to the late leader of the 
Opposition, to express their lamentation for Ferrier, 
and their distrust of Lord Philip; and to decide upon 
a policy. 

At the meeting a heated speech was made by a grey- 
haired squire, an old friend and Oxford contemporary 
of John Ferrier 's, who declared that he had it on ex- 
cellent authority that the communicated article in 
the Herald, which had appeared on the morning of 
Ferrier 's sudden death, had been written by Oliver 
Marsham. 

This statement was reported in the newspapers of 
the following morning, and was at once denied by 
Marsham himself, in a brief letter to the Times. 

It was this letter which Lady Felton discussed hotly 
with Sir James Chide on the day when Fanny Merton's 
misdemeanours also came up for judgement. 

'He says he did n't write it. Sir William declares 
[ 491 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

a mere quibble! He has it from several people that 
Barrington was at Tallyn two days before the article 
appeared, and that he spoke to one or two friends next 
day of an "important" conversation with Marsham, 
and of the first-hand information he had got from it. 
Nobody was so likely as Oliver to have that intimate 
knowledge of poor Mr. Ferrier's intentions and views. 
William believes that he gave Barrington all the in- 
formation in the article, and wrote nothing himself, in 
order that he might be able to deny it.' 

Sir James met these remarks with an impenetrable 
face. He neither defended Marsham, nor did he join in 
Lady Felton's denunciations. But that good lady, who 
though voluble was shrewd, told her husband after- 
ward that she was certain Sir James believed Marsham 
to be responsible for the Herald article. 

A week later the subject was renewed at a very 
heated and disorderly meeting at Dunscombe. A 
bookseller's assistant, well known as one of the leading 
Socialists of the division, got up and in a suave, minc- 
ing voice accused Marsham of having not written, 
but 'communicated' the Herald article, and so 
dealt a treacherous blow at his old friend and Parlia- 
mentary leader a blow which had no doubt contrib- 
uted to the situation culminating in Mr. Ferrier's 
tragic death. 

Marsham, very pale, sprang up at once, denied the 
charge, and fiercely attacked the man who had made it. 
But there was something so venomous in the manner 
of his denial, so undignified in the personalities with 
which it was accompanied, that the meeting suddenly 
took offence. The attack, instead of dying down, was 
[ 492 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

renewed. Speaker after speaker got up and heckled the 
candidate. Was Mr. Marsham aware that the editor of 
the Herald had been staying at Tallyn two days before 
the article appeared ? Was he also aware that his name 
had been freely mentioned, in the Herald office, in con- 
nexion with the article? 

Marsham in vain endeavoured to regain sang-froid 
and composure under these attacks. He haughtily re- 
peated his denial, and refused to answer any more 
questions on the subject. 

The local Tory paper rushed into the fray, and had 
presently collected a good deal of what it was pleased 
to call evidence on the matter, mainly gathered from 
London reporters. The matter began to look serious. 
Marsham appealed to Barrington to contradict the 
rumour publicly, as 'absurd and untrue/ But, unfort- 
unately, Barrington, who was a man of quick and gusty 
temper, had been nettled by an incautious expression 
of Marsham's with regard to the famous article in 
his Dunscombe speech 'If I had had any intention 
whatever of dealing a dishonourable blow at my old 
friend and leader, I could have done it a good deal 
more effectively, I can assure you; I should not have 
put what I had to say in a form so confused and con- 
tradictory/ 

This together with the general denial hap- 
pened to reach Barrington, and it rankled. When, 
therefore, Marsham appealed to him, he brusquely 
replied : 

DEAR MR. MARSHAM, You know best what share 
you had in the Herald article. You certainly did not 
[ 493 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

write it. But to my mind it very faithfully reproduced 
the gist of our conversation on a memorable evening. 
And, moreover, I believed and still believe that you 
intended the reproduction. Believe me, 
Yours faithfully, 

ERNEST BARRINGTON. 

To this Marsham returned a stiff answer, giving his 
own account of what had taken place, and regretting 
that even a keen journalist should have thought it con- 
sistent with his honour to make such injurious and 
unfair use of 'my honest attempt to play the peace- 
maker' between the different factions of the party. 

To this letter Barrington made no reply. Marsham, 
sore and weary, yet stung by now to an obstinacy and 
a fighting passion which gave a new and remarkable 
energy to his personality, threw himself afresh into a 
hopeless battle. For a time, indeed, the tide appeared 
to turn. He had been through two Parliaments a popu- 
lar and successful Member ; less popular, no doubt, in 
the second than in the first, as the selfish and bitter 
strains in his character became more apparent. Still he 
had always commanded a strong personal following, 
especially among the younger men of the towns and 
villages, who admired his lithe and handsome presence, 
and appreciated his reputation as a sportsman and 
volunteer. Lady Lucy's subscriptions, too, were an 
element in the matter not to be despised, 

A rally began in the Liberal host, which had felt 
itself already beaten. Marsham 's meetings improved, 
the Herald article was apparently forgotten. 

The anxiety now lay chiefly in the mining villages, 
[ 494 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

where nothing seemed to affect the hostile attitude of 
the inhabitants. A long series of causes had led up to 
it, to be summed up perhaps in one the harsh and 
domineering temper of the man who had for years 
managed the three Tallyn collieries, and who held 
Lady Lucy and her co-shareholders in the hollow of his 
hand. Lady Lucy, whose curious obstinacy had been 
roused, would not dismiss him, and nothing less than 
his summary dismissal would have appeased the dull 
hatred of six hundred miners. 

Marsham had indeed attempted to put through a 
number of minor reforms, but the effect on the temper 
of the district had been, in the end, little or nothing. 
The colliers, who had once fervently supported him, 
thought of him now, either as a fine gentleman profit- 
ing pecuniarily by the ill deeds of a tyrant, or as shel- 
tering behind his mother's skirts ; the Socialist Vicar of 
Beechcote thundered against him ; and for some time 
every meeting of his in the colliery villages was broken 
up. But in the more hopeful days of the last week, 
when the canvassing returns, together with Marsham 's 
astonishing energy and brilliant speaking, had revived 
the failing heart of the party, it was resolved to hold a 
final meeting, on the night before the poll, at Harting- 
field-on-the-Wold, the largest of the mining villages. 

Marsham left Dunscombe for Hartingfield about six 
o'clock on an August evening, driving the coach, with 
its superb team of horses, which had become by now so 
familiar an object in the division. He was to return in 
time to make the final speech in the concluding Liberal 
meeting of the campaign, which was to be held that 
[ 495 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

night, with the help of some half-dozen other Members 
of Parliament, in the Dunscombe Corn Exchange. 

A body of his supporters, gathered in the market- 
place, cheered him madly as the coach set off. Mar- 
sham stopped the horses for a minute outside the office 
of the local paper. The weekly issue came out that 
afternoon. It was handed up to him, and the coach 
rattled on. 

McEwart, who was sitting beside him, opened it, and 
presently gave a low involuntary whistle of dismay. 
Marsham looked round. 

'What's the matter?' 

McEwart would have gladly flung the paper away. 
But looking round him he saw that several other per- 
sons on the top of the coach had copies, and that 
whispering consternation had begun. 

He saw nothing for it but to hand the paper to 
Marsham. 'This is playing it pretty low down!' he 
said, pointing to an item in large letters on the first 
page. 

Marsham handed the reins to the groom beside him 
and took the paper. He saw, printed in full, Barring- 
ton's curt letter to himself on the subject of the Herald 
article, and below it the jubilant and scathing com- 
ments of the Tory editor. 

He read both carefully, and gave the paper back to 
McEwart. ' That decides the election,' he said, calmly. 
McEwart's face assented. 

Marsham, however, never showed greater pluck than 
at the Hartingfield meeting. It was a rowdy and dis- 
graceful business, in which from beginning to end he 
[ 496 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

scarcely got a hearing for more than three sentences 
at a time. A shouting mob of angry men, animated by 
passions much more than political, held him at bay. 
But on this occasion he never once lost his temper ; he 
caught the questions and insults hurled at him, and 
threw them back with unfailing skill ; and every now 
and then, at some lull in the storm, he made himself 
heard, and to good purpose. His courage and coolness 
propitiated some and exasperated others. 

A group of very rough fellows pursued him, shouting 
and yelling, as he left the school -room where the meet- 
ing was held. 

'Take care!' said McEwart, hurrying him along. 
'They are beginning with stones, and I see no police 
about/ 

The little party of visitors made for the coach, pro- 
tected by some of the villagers. But in the dusk the 
stones came flying fast and freely. Just as Marsham 
was climbing into his seat he was struck. McEwart 
saw him waver, and heard a muttered exclamation. 

'You're hurt!' he said, supporting him. 'Let the 
groom drive/ 

Marsham pushed him away. 

' It 's nothing/ He gathered up the reins, the grooms 
who had been holding the horses' heads clambered into 
their places, a touch of the whip, and the coach was off, 
almost at a gallop, pursued by a shower of missiles. 

After a mile at full speed Marsham pulled in the 
horses, and handed the reins to the groom. As he did 
so a low groan escaped him. 

'You are hurt!' exclaimed McEwart. 'Where did 
they hit you?' 

[ 497 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Marsham shook his head. 

'Better not talk/ he said, in a whisper. 'Drive 
home.' 

An hour afterward, it was announced to the crowded 
gathering in the Dunscombe Corn Exchange that Mr. 
Marsham had been hurt by a stone at Hartingfield, and 
could not address the meeting. The message was 
received with derision rather than sympathy. It was 
universally believed that the injury was a mere excuse, 
and that the publication of that most damning letter, 
on the very eve of the poll, was the sole and only cause 
why the Junior Lord of the Treasury failed on this oc- 
casion to meet the serried rows of his excited country- 
men, waiting for him in the packed and stifling hall. 

It was the Vicar who took the news to Beechcote. 
As in the case of Diana herself, the misfortune of the 
enemy instantly transformed a roaring lion into a suck- 
ing dove. Some instinct told him that she must hear 
it gently. He therefore invented an errand, saw Muriel 
Col wood, and left the tale with her both of the blow 
and the letter. 

Muriel, trembling inwardly, broke it as lightly and 
casually as she could. An injury to the spine so it 
was reported. No doubt rest and treatment would 
soon amend it. A London surgeon had been sent for. 
Meanwhile the election was said to be lost. Muriel 
reluctantly produced the letter in the West Brookshire 
Gazette, knowing that in the natural course of things 
Diana must see it on the morrow. 

Diana sat bowed over the letter and the news, and 
presently lifted up a white face, kissed Muriel, who 
was hovering round her, and begged to be left alone. 
[ 498 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She went to her room. The windows were wide open 
to the woods, and the golden August moon shone above 
the down in its bare full majesty. Most of the night 
she sat crouched beside the window, her head resting 
on the ledge. Her whole nature hungered and hun- 
gered for Oliver. As she lifted her eyes, she saw the 
little dim path on the hillside ; she felt his arms round 
about her, his warm life against hers. Nothing that he 
had done, nothing that he could do, had torn him, or 
would ever tear him, from her heart. And now he was 
wounded defeated perhaps disgraced ; and she 
could not help him, could not comfort him. 

She supposed Alicia Drake was with him. For the 
first time a torment of fierce jealousy ran through her 
nature, like fire through a forest glade, burning up its 
sweetness. 



CHAPTER XXI 

WHAT time is the carriage ordered for Mr. Nixon? 7 
asked Marsham of his servant. 

' Her ladyship, sir, told me to tell the stables four- 
twenty at Dunscombe.' 

'Let me hear directly the carriage arrives. And, 
Richard, go and see if the Dunscombe paper is come, 
and bring it up/ 

The footman disappeared. As soon as the door was 
shut, Marsham sank back into his cushions with a 
stifled groan. He was lying on a sofa in his own sitting- 
room. A fire burnt in the grate, and Marsham's 
limbs were covered with a rug. Yet it was only the 
first week of September, and the afternoon was warm 
and sunny. The neuralgic pain, however, from which 
he had suffered day and night since the attack upon 
him made him susceptible to the slightest breath of 
chill. 

The footman returned with the newspaper. 

'Is her ladyship at home?' 

' I think not, sir. I saw her ladyship go out a little 
while ago with Miss Drake. Is there anything else I can 
get for you?' 

'Make up the fire, please. Put the cigarettes here, 
and don't come till I ring.' 

Marsham, left alone, lit a cigarette, and fell hungrily 
upon the paper, his forehead and lips still drawn with 
pain. The paper contained an account of the stone- 
[ 500 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

throwing at Hartingfield, and of the injury to himself; 
a full record of the last five or six days of the election, 
and of the proceedings at the declaration of the poll ; a 
report, moreover, of the ' chivalrous and sympathetic 
references' made by the newly elected Conservative 
Member to the ' dastardly attack ' upon his rival, which 
the 'whole of West Brookshire condemns and de- 
plores/ 

The leading article 'condemned' and 'deplored/ at 
considerable length and in good set terms, through 
two paragraphs. In the third it 'could not disguise 
from itself or its readers' that Mr. Marsham's de- 
feat by so large a majority had been a strong proba- 
bility from the first, and had been made a certainty by 
the appearance on the eve of the poll of 'the Barring- 
ton letter.' 'No doubt, some day, Mr. Marsham will 
give his old friends and former constituents in this 
division the explanations in regard to this letter 
taken in connexion with his own repeated statements 
at meetings and in the press which his personal 
honour and their long fidelity seem to demand. Mean- 
while we can only express to our old Member our best 
wishes both for his speedy recovery from the effects of 
a cowardly and disgraceful attack, and for the restora- 
tion of a political position which only a few months 
ago seemed so strong and so full of promise.' 

Marsham put the paper down. He could see the 
whipper-snapper of an editor writing the lines, with a 
wary eye both to the past and future of the Marsham 
influence in the division. The self-made, shrewd little 
man had been Oliver's political slave and henchman 
through two Parliaments; and he had no doubt re- 
[ 501 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

fleeted that neither the Tallyn estates, nor the Mar- 
sham wealth had been wiped out by the hostile major- 
ity of last Saturday. At the same time, the state of 
feeling in the division was too strong ; the paper which 
depended entirely on local support could not risk its 
very existence by countering it. 

Marsham's keen brain spared him nothing. His 
analysis of his own situation, made at leisure during 
the week which had elapsed since the election, had 
been as pitiless and as acute as that of any opponent 
could have been. He knew exactly what he had lost, 
and why. 

A majority of twelve hundred against him, in a con- 
stituency where, up to the dissolution, he had com- 
manded a majority for him of fifteen hundred. 
And that at a general election, when his party was 
sweeping the country ! 

He had, of course, resigned his office, and had re- 
ceived a few civil and sympathetic words from the 
Premier words which but for his physical injury, so 
the recipient of them suspected, might have been a 
good deal less civil and less sympathetic. No effort had 
been made to delay the decision. For a Cabinet Minis- 
ter, defeated at a bye-election, a seat must be found. 
For a Junior Lord and a Second Whip nobody will put 
themselves out. 

He was, therefore, out of Parliament and out of 
office; estranged from multitudes of old friends; his 
name besmirched by some of the most damaging ac- 
cusations that can be brought against a man's heart 
and honour. 

He moved irritably among his cushions, trying to 
[ 502 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

arrange them more comfortably. This infernal pain ! 
It was to be hoped Nixon would be able to do more for 
it than that ass, the Dunscombe doctor. Marsham 
thought, with resentment, of all his futile drugs and 
expedients. According to the Dunscombe man, the 
stone had done no vital injury, but had badly bruised 
one of the lower vertebrae, and jarred the nerves of the 
spine generally. Local rest, various applications, and 
nerve-soothing drugs all these had been freely used 
and with no result. The pain had been steadily grow- 
ing worse, and in the last twenty-four hours certain 
symptoms had appeared, which, when he first noticed 
them, had roused in Marsham a gust of secret terror, 
and Nixon, a famous specialist in nerve and spinal 
disease, had been summoned forthwith. 

To distract his thoughts, Marsham took up the paper 
again. 

What was wrong with the light? He looked at the 
clock, and read it with some difficulty. Close on four 
only, and the September sun was shining brightly out- 
side. It was his eyes, he supposed, that were not quite 
normal. Very likely. A nervous shock must, of course, 
show itself in a variety of ways. At any rate, he found 
reading difficult, and the paper slid away. 

The pain, however, would not let him doze. He 
looked helplessly round the room, feeling depressed 
and wretched. Why were his mother and Alicia out so 
long? They neglected and forgot him. Yet he could 
not but remember that they had both devoted them- 
selves to him in the morning, had read to him and 
written for him, and he had not been a very grateful 
patient. He recalled, with bitterness, the look of 
[ 503 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

smiling relief with which Alicia had sprung up at the 
sound of the luncheon-bell, dropping the book from 
which she had been reading aloud, and the little song 
he had heard her humming in the corridor as she 
passed his door on her way downstairs. 

She was in no pain physical or mental, and she had 
probably no conception of what he had endured these 
six days and nights. But one would have thought that 
mere instinctive sympathy with the man to whom she 
was secretly engaged - 

For they were secretly engaged. It was during one 
of their early drives, in the canvassing of the first 
election, that he had lost his head one June afternoon, 
as they found themselves alone, crossing a beech 
wood on one of the private roads of the Tallyn estate ; 
the groom having been despatched on a message to 
a farmhouse. Alicia was in her most daring and provoc- 
ative mood, tormenting and flattering him by turns ; 
the reflexions from her rose-coloured parasol dappling 
her pale skin with warm colour ; her beautiful ungloved 
hands and arms, bare to the elbow, teasing the senses 
of the man beside her. Suddenly he had thrown his 
arm round her, and crushed her to him, kissing the 
smooth cool face and the dazzling hair. And she had 
nestled up to him and laughed not the least abashed 
or astonished ; so that even then, through his excite- 
ment, there had struck a renewed and sharp specula- 
tion as to her twenty-four hours' engagement to the 
Curate, in the spring of the year ; as to the privileges 
she must have^ all owed him; and no doubt to others 
before him. 

At that time, it was tacitly understood between 
[ 504 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

them that no engagement could be announced. Alicia 
was well aware that Brookshire was looking on ; that 
Brookshire was on the side of Diana Mallory, the for- 
saken, and was not at all inclined to forgive either the 
deserting lover or the supplanting damsel; so that 
while she was not loth to sting and mystify Brook- 
shire by whatever small signs of her power over Oliver 
Marsham she could devise ; though she queened it 
beside him on his coach, and took charge with Lady 
Lucy of his army of women canvassers; though she 
faced the mob with him at Hartingfield, on the occasion 
of the first disturbance there in June, and had stood 
beside him, vindictively triumphant on the day of his 
first hard-won victory, she would wear no ring, and she 
baffled all inquiries, whether of her relations or her girl 
friends. Her friendship with her cousin Oliver was 
nobody's concern but her own, she declared, and all 
they both wanted was to be let alone. 

Meanwhile she had been shaken and a little fright- 
ened by the hostile feeling shown toward her, no less 
than Oliver, in the first election. She had taken no 
part in the second, although she had been staying at 
Tallyn all through it, and was present when Oliver 
was brought in, half-fainting and agonised with pain, 
after the Hartingfield riot. 

Oliver, now, lying with closed eyes on his sofa, lived 
again through the sensations and impressions of that 
first hour : the pain the arrival of the doctor the 
injection of morphia the blessed relief stealing 
through his being and then Alicia's face beside him. 
Delivered from the obsession of intolerable anguish, he 
[ 505 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

had been free to notice with a kind of exultation the 
tears in the girl's eyes, her pale tremor and silence. 
Never yet had Alicia wept for him or anything that 
concerned him. Never, indeed, had he seen her weep 
in his whole life before. He triumphed in her tears. 

Since then, however, their whole relation had in- 
sensibly and radically changed ; their positions toward 
each other were reversed. Till the day of his injury 
and his defeat, Marsham had been in truth the wooed 
and Alicia the wooer. Now it seemed to him as though, 
through his physical pain, he were all the time clinging 
to something that shrank away and resisted him - 
something that would ultimately 'elude and escape him. 

He knew well that Alicia liked sickness and melan- 
choly no more than he did ; and he was constantly torn 
between a desire to keep her near him and a perception 
that to tie her to his sick-room was, in fact, the worst 
of policies. 

Persistently, in the silence of the hot room, there 
rang through his brain the questions, ' Do I really care 
whether she stays or goes? do I love her? shall 
I ever marry her?' Questions that were immediately 
answered, it seemed, by the rise of a wave of desolate 
and desperate feeling. He was maimed and ruined; 
life had broken under his feet. What if also he were 
done for ever with love and marriage? 

There were still some traces in his veins of the seda- 
tive drug which had given him a few hours' sleep dur- 
ing the night. Under its influence a feverish dreami- 
ness overtook him, alive with fancies and images. Fer- 
rier and Diana were among the phantoms that peopled 
the room. He saw Ferrier come in, stoop over the 
[ 506 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

newspaper on the floor, raise it, and walk toward the 
fire with it. The figure stood with its back to him ; then 
suddenly it turned, and Marsham saw the well-known 
face, intent, kindly, a little frowning, as though in 
thought, but showing no consciousness of his, Oliver 's, 
presence or plight. He himself wished to speak, but 
was only aware of useless effort and some intangible 
hindrance. Then Ferrier moved on toward a writing- 
table with drawers that stood beyond the fireplace. 
He stooped, and touched a handle. ' No ! ' cried Oliver, 
violently 'no!' He woke with shock and distress, 
his pulse racing. But the feverish state began again, 
and dreams with it of the House of Commons, the 
election, the faces in the Hartingfield crowd. Diana 
was among the crowd looking on vaguely beau- 
tiful and remote. Yet as he perceived her a rush of 
cool air struck on his temples, he seemed to be 
walking down a garden, there was a scent of limes 
and roses. 

' Oliver ! ' said his mother's voice beside him ' dear 
Oliver!' 

He roused himself to find Lady Lucy bending over 
him. The pale dismay in her face excited and irritated 
him. 

He turned away from her. 

'Is Nixon come?' 

'Dearest, he has just arrived. Will you see him at 
once?' 

'Of course!' he said, angrily. 'Why does n't Rich- 
ard do as he's told?' 

He raised himself into a sitting posture, while Lady 
Lucy went to the door. The local doctor entered a 
[ 507 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

stranger behind him. Lady Lucy left her son and the 
great surgeon together. 

Nearly an hour later, Mr. Nixon, waylaid by Lady 
Lucy, was doing his best to compromise, as doctors 
must, between consideration for the mother and truth 
as to the son. There was, he hoped, no irreparable in- 
jury. But the case would be long, painful, trying to 
everybody concerned. Owing to the mysterious nerve- 
sympathies of the body, the sight was already affected 
and would be more so. Complete rest, certain mechan- 
ical applications, certain drugs he ran through his 
recommendations. 

'Avoid morphia, I implore you/ he said, earnestly, 
'if you possibly can. Here a man's friends can be of 
great help to him. Cheer him and distract him in every 
way you can. I think we shall be able to keep the pain 
within bounds/ 

Lady Lucy looked piteously at the speaker. 

'And how long?' she said, trembling. 

Mr. Nixon hesitated. 'I am afraid I can hardly 
answer that. The blow was a most unfortunate one. 
It might have done a worse injury. Your son might be 
now a paralysed invalid for life. But the case is very 
serious, nor is it possible yet to say what all the con- 
sequences of the injury may be. But keep your own 
courage up and his. The better his general state, 
the more chance he has/ 

A few minutes more, and the brougham had carried 
him away. Lady Lucy, looking after it from the win- 
dow of her sitting-room, knew that for her at last what 
she had been accustomed to describe every Sunday as 
[ 508 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'the sorrows of this transitory life' had begun. Till 
now they had been as veiled shapes in a misty distance. 
She had accepted them with religious submission, as 
applying to others. Her mind, resentful and aston- 
ished, must now admit them pale messengers of 
powers unseen and pitiless ! to its own daily experi- 
ence; must look unprotected, unscreened, into their 
stern faces. 

'John! John!' cried the inner voice of agonised 
regret. And then : ' My boy ! my boy ! ' 

'What did he say?' asked Alicia's voice, beside her. 

The sound the arm thrown round her were not 
very welcome to Lady Lucy. Her nature, imperious 
and jealously independent, under all her sweetness of 
manner, set itself against pity, especially from her 
juniors. She composed herself at once. 

'He does not give a good account,' she said, with- 
drawing herself gently but decidedly. ' It may take 
a long time before Oliver is quite himself again.' 

Alicia persisted in a few questions, extracting all the 
information she could. Then Lady Lucy sat down at 
her writing-table and began to arrange some letters. 
Alicia's presence annoyed her. The truth was that she 
was not as fond of Alicia as she had once been. These 
misfortunes, huddling one on another, instead of draw- 
ing them together, had in various and subtle ways pro- 
duced a secret estrangement. To neither the older nor 
the younger woman could the familiar metaphor have 
been applied which compares the effects of sorrow or 
sympathy on fine character to the bruising of fragrant 
herbs. Ferrier's death, sorely and bitterly lamented 
[ 509 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

though it was, had not made Lady Lucy more loveable. 
Oliver's misfortune had not toward Lady Lucy, at 
any rate liberated in Alicia those hidden tender- 
nesses that may sometimes transmute and glorify nat- 
ures apparently careless or stubborn, brought eye to 
eye with pain. Lady Lucy also resented her too long 
exclusion from Alicia's confidence. Like all the rest of 
the world, she believed there was an understanding 
between Oliver and Alicia. Of course, there were 
reasons for not making anything of the sort public at 
present. But a mother, she thought, ought to have 
been told. 

' Does Mr. Nixon recommend that Oliver should go 
abroad for the winter?' asked Alicia, after a pause. 
She was sitting on the arm of a chair, her slender feet 
hanging, and the combination of her blue linen dress 
with the fiery gold of her hair reminded Lady Lucy of 
the evening in the Eaton Square drawing-room, when 
she had first entertained the idea that Alicia and Oliver 
might marry. Oliver, standing erect in front of the fire 
looking down upon Alicia in her blue tulle his young 
vigour and distinction the carriage of his handsome 
head was she never to see that sight again never? 
Her heart fluttered and sank; the prison of life con- 
tracted round her. 

She answered, rather shortly. 

' He made no plan of the kind. Travelling, in fact, is 
absolutely forbidden for the present.' 

'Poor Oliver!' said Alicia, gently, her eyes on the 
ground. ' How horrid it is that I have to go away ! ' 

'You! When?' Lady Lucy turned sharply to look 
at the speaker. 

[ 510 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Oh! not till Saturday/ said Alicia, hastily; 'and 
of course I shall come back again if you want me/ 
She looked up with a smile. 

'Oliver will certainly want you ; I don't know whom 
he could possibly want so much/ Lady Lucy 
spoke the words with slow emphasis. 

'Dear old boy! I know/ murmured Alicia. 'I 
need n't be long away.' 

'Why must you go at all? I am sure the Treshams 
Lady Evelyn would understand - 

'Oh, I promised so faithfully!' pleaded Alicia, join- 
ing her hands. 'And then, you know, I should be able 
to bring all sorts of gossip back to Oliver to amuse him. ' 

Lady Lucy pressed her hand to her eyes in a miser- 
able bewilderment. 'I suppose it will be an immense 
party. You told me, I think, that Lady Evelyn had 
asked Lord Philip Darcy. I should be glad if you would 
make her understand that neither I, nor Sir James 
Chide, nor any other old friend of Mr. Ferrier can ever 
meet that man on friendly terms again.' She looked 
up, her wrinkled cheeks flushed with colour, her aspect 
threatening and cold. 

' Of course ! ' said Alicia, soothingly. ' Hateful man ! 
I too loathe the thought of meeting him. But you 
know how delicate Evelyn is, and how she has been 
depending on me to help her. Now, ought n't we to go 
back to Oliver?' She rose from her chair. 

'Mr. Nixon left some directions to which I must 
attend/ said Lady Lucy, turning to her desk. 'Will 
you go and read to him?' 

Alicia moved away, but paused as she neared the 
door. 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'What did Mr. Nixon say about Oliver's eyes? He 
has been suffering from them dreadfully to-day/ 
'Everything is connected. We can only wait/ 
'Are you are you thinking of a nurse?' 
'No/ said Lady Lucy, decidedly. 'His man Rich- 
ard is an excellent nurse. I shall never leave him 
and you say' she turned pointedly to look at Alicia 
'you say you will come back?' 

'Of course! of course I will come back!' cried 
Alicia. Then, stepping up briskly to Lady Lucy, she 
stooped and kissed her. ' And there is you to look after, 
too!' 

Lady Lucy allowed the kiss, but made no reply to 
the remark. Alicia departed. 

She went slowly up the wide oak staircase. How 
stifling the house was on this delicious afternoon ! Sud- 
denly, in the distance, she heard the sound of guns 
a shooting-party, no doubt, on one of the Melford 
farms. Her feet danced under her, and she gave a 
sigh of longing for the stubbles and the sunny fields, 
and the companionship of handsome men, of health 
and vigour as flawless and riotous as her own. 

Oliver was lying still, with closed eyes, when she re- 
joined him. He made no sign as she opened the door, 
and she sank down on a stool beside him and laid her 
head against his shoulder. 

'Dear Oliver, you must cheer up/ she said, softly. 
'You'll be well soon quite soon if you are only 
patient.' 

He made no reply. 

'Did you like Mr. Nixon?' she asked, in the same 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

caressing voice, gently rubbing her cheek against his 
arm. 

' One does n't exactly like one's executioner/ he said, 
hoarsely and suddenly, but without opening his eyes. 

' Oliver ! dearest ! ' She dropped a protesting kiss 
on the sleeve of his coat. 

Silence for a little. Alicia felt as if she could hardly 
breathe in the hot room. Then Oliver raised himself. 

'I am going blind!' he said, violently. 'And 
nothing can be done. Did that man tell my mother 
that?' 

' No, no ! Oliver ! ' She threw her arm round him, 
hastily repeating and softening Nixon's opinion. 

He sank back on his cushions, gloomily listening 
without assent. Presently he shook his head. 

'The stuff that doctors talk when they can do no 
good, and want to get comfortably out of the house! 
Alicia!' 

She bent forward startled. 

'Alicia! are you going to stick to me?' 

His eyes held her. 

' Oliver ! what a cruel question ! ' 

' No, it is not cruel. ' He spoke with a decision which 
took no account of her caresses. ' I ought to give you 
up I know that perfectly well. But I tell you 
frankly I shall have no motive to get well if you leave 
me. I think that man told me the truth I did my 
best to make him. There is a chance of my getting 
well the thing is not hopeless. If you'll stand by 
me, I'll fight through. Will you?' He looked at her 
with a threatening and painful eagerness. 

'Of course I will,' she said, promptly. 
[ 513 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Then let us tell my mother to-night that we are en- 
gaged? Mind, I am not deceiving you. I would give 
you up at once if I were hopelessly ill. I am only asking 
you to bear a little waiting and wretchedness for 
my sake/ 

' I will bear anything. Only, dear Oliver for your 
sake for mine wait a little longer! You know 
what horrible gossip there 's been ! ' She clung to him, 
murmuring : ' I could n't bear that anybody should 
speak or think harshly of you now. It can make no 
difference to you and me, but two or three months 
hence everybody would take it so differently. You 
know we said in June six months.' 

Her voice was coaxing and sweet. He partially with- 
drew himself from her, however. 

'At least, you can tell my mother/ he said, insisting. 
'Of course, she suspects it all.' 

'Oh, but, dear Oliver!' she brought her face 
nearer to his, and he saw the tears in her eyes ' one's 
own mother ought to know first of all. Mamma would 
be so hurt she would never forgive me. Let me pay 
this horrid visit and then go home and tell my peo- 
ple if you really, really wish it. Afterward of course, 
I shall come back to you and Cousin Lucy shall 
know and at Christmas everybody.' 

'What visit? You are going to Eastham? to the 
Treshams' ?' It was a cry of incredulous pain. 

'How can I get out of it, dear Oliver? Evelyn has 
been so ill ! and she's been depending on me and 
I owe her so much. You know how good she was to me 
in the Season.' 

He lifted himself again on his cushions, surveying 
t 514 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

her ironically his eyes sunken and weak his 
aspect ghastly. 

'Well, how long do you mean 'to stay? Is Lord 
Philip going to be there? 7 

'What do I care whether he is or not!' 

'You said you were longing to know him.' 

'That was before you were ill.' 

' I don't see any logic in that remark.' He lay look- 
ing at her. Then suddenly he put out an arm, pulled 
her down to him feebly, and kissed her. But the move- 
ment hurt him. He turned away with some broken 
words or, rather, moans stifled against his pil- 
lows. 

'Dear, do lie still. Shall I read to you?' 

He shook his head. 

' Don't stay with me. I shall be better after dinner.' 

She rose obediently, touched him caressingly with 
her hand, drew a light shawl over him, and stole away. 

When she reached her own room she stood a mo- 
ment, frowning and absorbed, beside the open window. 
Then some one knocked at her door. It was her maid, 
who came in carrying a large light box. 

Alicia flew toward her. 

'FromCosette! Heavens! Oh, Benson, quick ! Put 
it down. I'll help you.' 

The maid obeyed, and ran to the dressing-table for 
scissors. Cords and tapes were soon cut in the hurry of 
unpacking, and from the crackling tissue-paper there- 
emerged an evening gown of some fresh snowy stuff, 
delicately painted and embroidered, which drew from 
the maid little shrieks of admiration. 
[ 515 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Alicia looked at it more critically. 

'The lace is not good enough/ she said, twisting her 
lip, 'and I shall make her give me some more em- 
broidery than that on the bodice for the money I 
can tell her ! However, it is pretty much prettier, 
is n't it, Benson, than that gown of Lady Evelyn's 
I took it from? She'll be jealous!' The girl laughed 
triumphantly. 'Well, now, look here, Benson, we're 
going on Saturday, and I want to look through my 
gowns. Get them out, and I '11 see if there 's anything 
I can send home/ 

The maid's face fell. 

' I packed some of them this morning, Miss in the 
large American trunk. I thought they'd keep better 
there than anywhere. It took a lot of time.' 

'Oh, never mind. You can easily pack them again. 
I really must go through them/ 

The maid unwillingly obeyed ; and soon the room 
-bed, sofa, chairs was covered with costly gowns, 
for all hours of the day and night : walking-dresses, in 
autumn stuffs and colours, ready for the moors and 
stubbles ; afternoon frocks of an elaborate simplicity, 
expensively girlish; evening dresses in an amazing 
variety of hue and fabric ; with every possible adjunct 
in the way of flowers, gloves, belt, that dressmakers 
and customer could desire. 

Alicia looked at it all with glowing cheeks. She re- 
flected that she had really spent the last cheque she had 
made her father give her to very great advantage. 
There were very few people of her acquaintance, girls 
or married women, who knew how to get as much out 
of money as she did. 

[. 516 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

In her mind she ran over the list of guests invited to 
the Eastham party, as her new friend Lady Evelyn 
had confided it to her. Nothing could be smarter, but 
the competition amongst the women would be terribly 
keen. ' Of course, I can't touch duchesses, ' she thought, 
laughing to herself, 'or American millionaires. But I 
shall do !' 

And her mind ran forward in a dream of luxury and 
delight. She saw herself sitting or strolling in vast 
rooms amid admiring groups; mirrors reflected her; 
she heard the rustle of her gowns on parquet or marble, 
the merry sound of her own laughter ; other girls threw 
her the incense of their envy and imitation ; and men, 
fresh and tanned from shooting, breathing the joy of 
physical life, devoted themselves to her pleasure, or 
encircled her with homage. Not always chivalrous, or 
delicate, or properly behaved these men of her im- 
agination! What matter? She loved adventures ! And 
moving like a king amongst the rest, she saw the thin, 
travel-beaten, eccentric form of Lord Philip the 
hated, adored, pursued; Society's idol and bugbear 
all in one; Lord Philip, who shunned and disliked 
women; on whom, nevertheless, the ambitions and 
desires of some of the loveliest women in England were, 
on that account alone, and at this moment of his 
political triumph, the more intently and the more 
greedily fixed. 

A flash of excitement ran through her. In Lady 
Evelyn's letter of that morning there was a mention 
of Lord Philip. ' I told him you were to be here. He 
made a note of it, and I do at last believe he won't 
throw us over, as he generally does/ 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She dressed, still in a reverie, speechless under her 
maid's hands. Then, as she emerged upon the gallery, 
looking down upon the ugly hall of Tallyn, she remem- 
bered that she had promised to go back after dinner 
and read to Oliver. Her nature rebelled in a moral and 
physical nausea, and it was all she could do to meet 
Lady Lucy at their solitary dinner with her usual good 
temper. 



CHAPTER XXII 

SIR JAMES CHIDE was giving tea to a couple of guests 
at Lytchett Manor. It was a Saturday in late Septem- 
ber. The beech-trees visible through the drawing- 
room windows were still untouched and heavily green ; 
but their transformation was approaching. Soon, 
steeped in incredible splendours of orange and gold, they 
would stand upon the leaf-strewn grass, waiting for 
the night of rain or the touch of frost which should at 
last disrobe them. 

'If you imagine, Miss Ettie,' said Sir James, se- 
verely, to a young lady beside him, 'that I place the 
smallest faith in any of Bobbie's remarks or protesta- 
tions 

The girl addressed smiled into his face, undaunted. 
She was a small elfish creature with a thin face, on the 
slenderest of necks. But in her queer little counten- 
ance a pair of laughing eyes, out of all proportion to the 
rest of her for loveliness and effect, gave her and kept 
her the attention of the world. They lent distinction. 
- fascination even to a character of simple virtues 
and girlish innocence. 

Bobbie lounged behind her chair, his arms on the 
back of it. He took Sir James's attack upon him with 
calm. 

'Shall I show him the letter of my beastly chair- 
man?' he said, in the girl's ear. 

She nodded, and Bobbie drew from his breast-pocket 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

a folded sheet of blue paper, and pompously handed 
it to Sir James. 

The letter was from the chairman of a leading bank 
in Berlin a man well known in European finance. It 
was couched in very civil terms, and contained the 
offer to Mr. Robert Forbes of a post in the Lindner 
bank, as an English correspondence clerk, at a salary 
in marks which, when translated, meant about 140 
a year. 

Sir James read it, and handed it back. ' Well, what's 
the meaning of that?' 

'I'm giving up the Foreign Office,' said Bobbie, with 
an engaging openness of manner. 'It's not a proper 
place for a young man. I 've learnt nothing there but 
a game we do with Blue-Books, and things you throw 
at the ceiling where they stick I '11 tell you about 
it presently. Besides, you see, I must have some 
money, and it don't grow in the Foreign Office for 
people like me. So I went to my uncle, Lord For- 
estier - 

'Of course!' growled Sir James. 'I thought we 
should come to the uncles before long. Miss Wilson, I 
desire to warn you against marrying a young man of 
"the classes." They have no morals, but they have 
always uncles.' 

Miss Wilson's eyes shot laughter at her fiance. 'Go 
on, Bobbie, and don't make it too long!' 

'I decline to be hustled.' Bobbie's tone was firm, 
though urbane. ' I repeat : I went to my uncle. And 
I said to him, like the unemployed : " Find me work, 
and none of your d d charity!'" 

'Which means, I suppose, that the last time you 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

went to him, you borrowed fifty pounds?' said Sir 
James. 

'I should n't dream, sir, of betraying my uncle's af- 
fairs. On this occasion for an uncle he behaved 
well. He lectured me for twenty-seven minutes and a 
half I had made up my mind beforehand not to let 
it go over the half -hour and then he came to busi- 
ness. After a year's training and probation in Berlin 
he thought he could get me a post in his brother-in- 
law's place in the City. Awfully warm thing, you 
know/ said Bobbie, complacently; 'worth a little 
trouble. So I told him, kindly, I'd think of it. Ecco!' 
He pointed to the letter. ' Of course, I told my uncle 
I should permit him to continue my allowance, and in 
a year I shall be a merchant prince in the egg ; I 
shall be worth marrying ; and I shall allow Ettie two 
hundred a year for her clothes.' 

'And Lady Niton?' 

Bobbie sat down abruptly; the girl stared at the 
carpet. 

'I don't see the point of your remark/ said Bobbie 
at last, with mildness. 'When last I had the honour of 
hearing of her, Lady Niton was taking the air or the 
waters at Strathpeffer.' 

'As far as I know/ remarked Sir James, 'she is stay- 
ing with the Feltons, five miles off, at this moment.' 

Bobbie whistled. 'Close quarters!' He looked at 
Miss Ettie Wilson, and she at him. ' May I ask whether, 
as soon as Ettie and I invited ourselves for the day, 
you asked Lady Niton to come to tea?' 

' Not at all. I never play Providence unless I 'm told 
to do so. Only Miss Mallory is coming to tea/ 
[ 521 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Bobbie expressed pleasure at the prospect; then his 
amiable countenance the face of an ' Idle Appren- 
tice/ whom no god has the heart to punish sobered 
to a real concern as the association of ideas led him 
to inquire what the latest news might be of Oliver 
Marsham. 

Sir James shook his head; his look clouded. He 
understood from Lady Lucy that Oliver was no better ; 
the accounts, in fact, were very bad. 

'Did they arrest anybody?' asked Bobbie. 

'At Hartingfield? Yes two lads. But there was 
not evidence enough to convict. They were both re- 
leased, and the village gave them an ovation/ 

Bobbie hesitated. 'What do you think was the 
truth about that article?' 

Sir James frowned and rose. 

' Miss Wilson, come and see my garden. If you don't 
fall down and worship the peaches on my south wall, 
I shall not pursue your acquaintance/ 

It was a Saturday afternoon. Briefs were forgotten. 
The three strolled down the garden. Sir James, in a 
disreputable shooting-coat and cap, his hands deep in 
his pockets, took the middle of the path the two 
lovers on either side. Chide made himself delightful to 
them. On that Italian journey of which he constantly 
thought, Ferrier had been amused and cheered all 
through by Bobbie's nonsense ; and the young fellow 
had loyally felt his death and shown it. Chide's 
friendly eye would be on him and his Ettie hencefor- 
ward. 

Five or ten minutes afterward, a brougham drove up 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

to the door of Lytchett, and a small lady emerged. She 
had rung the bell, and was waiting on the steps, when 
a pony-carriage also turned into the Lytchett avenue 
and drew near rapidly. 

A girl in a shady hat was driving it. 

'The very creature!' cried Lady Niton, under her 
breath, smartly tapping her tiny boot with the black 
cane she carried, and referring apparently to some 
train of meditation in which she had been just engaged. 
She waved to her own coachman to be off, and stood 
awaiting Diana. 

'How do you do, Miss Mallory? Are you invited? 
I'm not.' 

Diana descended, and they shook hands. They had 
not met since the evening at Tallyn when Diana, in her 
fresh beauty, had been the gleaming princess, and 
Lady Niton the friendly godmother, of so promising 
a fairy tale. The old woman looked at her curiously, as 
they stood in the drawing-room together, while the 
footman went off to find Sir James. Frail dark lines 
under the eyes a look as of long endurance a smile 
that was a mere shield and concealment for the heart 
beneath alack ! 

And there was no comfort to be got out of calling 
down fire from Heaven on the author of this change, 
since it had fallen so abundantly already ! 

'Sit down; you look tired,' said the old lady, in her 
piping, peremptory voice. ' Have you been here all the 
summer?' 

'Yes since June/ 

'Through the election?' 

'Yes.' Diana turned her face away. Lady Niton 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

could see the extreme delicacy to which the profile had 
fined down, the bluish or purple shadows here and 
there on the white skin. Something glittered in the old 
woman's eyes. She put out a hand from the queer 
flounced mantle, made out of an ancient evening dress, 
in which she was arrayed, and touched Diana's. 

'You know you've heard about those poor 
things at Tallyn?' 

Diana made a quick movement. Her eyes were on 
the speaker. 

'How is Mr. Marsham?' 

Lady Niton shook her head. She opened a hand-bag 
on her wrist, took out a letter, and put on her eye- 
glasses. 

'This is Lucy arrived this morning. It don't 
sound well. "Come when you can, my dear Elizabeth 

you will be very welcome. But I do not know how 
I have the courage to ask you. We are a depressing 
pair, Oliver and I. Oliver has been in almost constant 
pain this last week. If it goes on we must try morphia. 
But before that we shall see another doctor. I dread 
to think of morphia. Once begin it, and what will be 
the end? I sit here alone a great deal thinking. 
How long did that stone take to throw? a few sec- 
onds, perhaps? And here is my son my poor son ! - 
broken and helpless perhaps for life. We have been 
trying a secretary to write for him and read to him, for 
the blindness increases, but it has not been a success." ' 

Diana rose abruptly and walked to the window, 
where she stood, motionless looking out her back 
turned to Lady Niton. Her companion glanced at her 

lifted her eyebrows hesitated and finally put 

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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the letter back into her pocket. There was an awk- 
ward silence, when Diana suddenly returned to Lady 
Niton's side. 

'Where is Miss Drake?' she said, sharply. 'Is the 
marriage put off?' 

'Marriage!' Lady Niton laughed. 'Alicia and Oli- 
ver? H'm. I don't think we shall hear much more of 
that!' 

'I thought it was settled/ 

' Well as soon as I heard of the accident and Oliver's 
condition, I wondered to myself how long that young 
woman would keep it up. I have no doubt the situation 
gave her a disturbed night or two. Alicia never can 
have had the smallest intention of spending her life, or 
the best years of it, in nursing a sick husband. On the 
other hand, money is money. So she went off to the 
Treshams', to see if there was no third course that 's 
how I read it.' 

'The Treshams'? a visit? since the accident?' 

' Don't look so astonished, my dear. You don't know 
the Alicias of this world. But I admit we should be dull 
without them. There's a girl at the Fel tons' who has 
just come down from the Treshams', and I would n't 
have missed her stories of Alicia for a great deal. She 's 
been setting her cap, it appears, at Lord Philip. How- 
ever' (Lady Niton chuckled), 'there she's met her 
match/ 

'But they are engaged?' said Diana, in bewildered 
interrogation. 

The little lady's laugh rang out shrill and cracked 
- like the crow of a bantam. 

'She and Lord Philip? Trust Lord Philip!' 
[ 525 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'No, I did n't mean that!' 

'She and Oliver? I've no doubt Oliver thinks or 
thought they were. What view he takes now, poor 
fellow, I'm sure I don't know. - But I don't somehow 
think Alicia will be able to carry on the game indefin- 
itely. Lady Lucy is losing patience.' 

Diana sat in silence. Lady Niton could not exactly 
decipher her. But she guessed at a conflict between a 
scrupulous or proud unwillingness to discuss the mat- 
ter at all or hear it discussed, and some motive deeper 
still and more imperative. 

' Lady Lucy has been ill too? ' Diana inquired at last, 
in the same voice of constraint. 

'Oh, very unwell indeed. A poor, broken thing! 
And there don't seem to be anybody to look after 
them. Mrs. Fotheringham is about as much good as 
a broomstick. Every family ought to keep a supply 
of superfluous girls. They're like the army useless 
in peace and indispensable in war. Ha! here's Sir 
James.' 

Both ladies perceived Sir James, coming briskly up 
the garden-path. As she saw him a thought struck 
Diana a thought which concerned Lady Niton. It 
broke down the tension of her look, and there was the 
gleam of a smile sad still, and touching in the 
glance she threw at her companion. She had been 
asked to tea to meet a couple of guests from London 
with whose affairs she was well acquainted; and she 
too thought Sir James had been playing Providence. 

Sir James, evidently conscious, saw the raillery in 
her face, pinched her fingers as she gave him her hand, 
and Diana, passing him, escaped to the garden, very 
[ 526 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

certain that she should find the couple in question 
somewhere among its shades. 

Lady Niton examined Sir James looked after 
Diana. 

'Look here!' she said, abruptly; 'what's up? You 
two understand something I don't. Out with it!' 

Sir James, who could always blush like a girl, 
blushed. 

' I vow that I am as innocent as a babe unborn ! ' 

'What of?' The tone of the demand was like that 
of a sword in the drawing. 

'I have some guests here to-day.' 

'Who are they?' 

'A young man you know a young woman you 
would like to know.' 

Silence. Lady Niton sat down again. 

' Kindly ring the bell,' she said, lifting a peremptory 
hand, 'and send for my carriage.' 

'Let me parley an instant,' said Sir James, moving 
between her and the bell. ' Bobbie is just off to Berlin. 
Won't you say good-bye to him?' 

'Mr. Forbes's movements are entirely indifferent to 
me ring!' Then, shrill-voiced and with sudden 
fury, like a bird ruffling up: 'Berlin, indeed! More 
waste more shirking ! He need n't come to me ! I 
won't give him another penny.' 

'I don't advise you to offer it,' said Sir James, with 
suavity. ' Bobbie has got a post in Berlin through his 
uncle, and is going off for a twelvemonth to learn 
banking.' 

Lady Niton sat blinking and speechless. Sir James 
drew the muslin curtain back from the window. 
[ 527 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' There they are, you see Bobbie and the Ex- 
planation. And if you ask me, I think the Explanation 
explains/ 

Lady Niton put up her gold-rimmed glasses. 

* She is not in the least pretty ! ' she said, with hasty 
venom, her old hand shaking. 

'No, but fetching and a good girl. She worships 
her Bobbie, and she's sending him away for a year/ 

' I won't allow it ! ' cried Lady Niton. ' He shan't go/ 

Sir James shrugged his shoulders. 

' These are domestic brawls I decline them. Ah ! ' 
He turned to the window, opening it wide. She did not 
move. He made a sign, and two of the three persons 
who had just appeared on the lawn came running to- 
ward the house. Diana loitered behind. 

Lady Niton looked at the two young faces as they 
reached her side the mingling of laughter and anxi- 
ety in the girl's, of pride and embarrassment in Bob- 
bie's. 

'You shan't go to Berlin!' she said to him, vehem- 
ently, as she just allowed him to take her hand. 

'Dear Lady Niton! I must/ 

' You shan't ! I tell you ! I 've got you a place in 
London a thousand times better than your fool of 
an uncle could ever get you. Uncle, indeed! Read 
that letter ! ' She tossed him one from her bag. 

Bobbie read, while Lady Niton stared hard at the 
girl. Presently Bobbie began to gasp. 

' Well, upon my word ! ' - - he put the letter down - 

'upon my word 1 / He turned to his sweetheart. 'Et- 

tie ! you marry me in a month ! mind that ! 

Hang Berlin ! I scorn their mean proposals. London 

[ 528 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

requires me.' He drew himself up. 'But first' (he 
looked at Lady Niton, his flushed face twitching a 
little) 'justice!' he said, peremptorily 'justice on 
the chief offender/ 

And walking across to her, he stooped and kissed her. 
Then he beckoned to Ettie to do the same. Very shyly 
the girl ventured ; very stoically the victim submitted. 
Whereupon, Bobbie subsided, sitting cross-legged on 
the floor, and a violent quarrel began immediately be- 
tween him and Lady Niton on the subject of the part 
of London in which he and Ettie were to live. Fiercely 
the conflict waxed and waned, while the young girl's 
soft irrepressible laughter filled up all gaps, and like 
a rushing stream carried away the detritus the tem- 
pers and rancours and scorns left by former con- 
vulsions. 

Meanwhile, Diana and Sir James paced the garden. 
He saw that she was silent and absent-minded, and 
guessed uneasily at the cause. It was impossible that 
any woman of her type, who had gone through the 
experience that she had, should remain unmoved by 
the accounts now current as to Oliver Marsham's state. 

As they returned across the lawn to the house the 
two lovers came out to meet them. Sir James saw the 
look with which Diana watched them coming. It 
seemed to him one of the sweetest and one of the most 
piteous he had ever seen on a human face. 

'I shall descend upon you next week/ said Lady 
Niton, abruptly, as Diana made her farewells. ' I shall 
be at Tallyn.' 

Diana did not reply. The little fiancee insisted on the 
[ 529 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

right to take her to her pony-carriage, and kissed her 
tenderly before she let her go. Diana had already be- 
come as a sister to her and Bobbie, trusted in their 
secrets 'and advising in their affairs. 

Lady Niton, standing by Sir James, looked after her. 

'Well, there's only one thing in the world that girl 
wants, and I suppose nobody in their senses ought to 
help her to it.' 

'What do you mean?' 

She murmured a few words in his ear. 

'Not a bit of it!' said Sir James, violently. 'I for- 
bid it. Don't you go and put anything of the sort into 
her head. The young man I mean her to marry comes 
back from Nigeria this very day.' 

' She won't marry him ! ' 

'We shall see.' 

Diana drove home through lanes suffused with sun- 
set and rich with autumn. There had been much rain 
through September, and the deluged earth steamed 
under the return of the sun. Mists were rising from the 
stubbles, and wrapping the woods in sleep and purple. 
To her the beauty of it all was of a mask or pageant - 
seen from a distance across a plain or through a street- 
opening lovely and remote. All that was real all 
that lived was the image within the mind ; not the 
great earth-show without. 

As she passed through the village she fell in with the 
Roughsedges : the Doctor, with his wide-awake on the 
back of his head, a book and a bulging umbrella under 
his arm ; Mrs. Roughsedge, in a new shawl, and new 
bonnet-strings, with a prodigal flutter of side-curls be- 
[ 530 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

side her ample countenance. Hugh, it appeared, was 
expected by an evening train. Diana begged that he 
might be brought up to see her some time in the course 
of the following afternoon. Then she drove on, and 
Mrs. Roughsedge was left staring discontentedly at her 
husband. 

'I think she was glad, Henry?' 

' Think it, my dear, if it does you any good/ said the 
Doctor, cheerfully. 

When Diana reached home night had fallen a 
moonlit night, through which all the shapes and even 
the colours of day were still to be seen or divined in a 
softened and pearly mystery. Muriel Colwood was not 
at home. She had gone to town, on one of her rare 
absences, to meet some relations. Diana missed her, 
and yet was conscious that even the watch of those 
kind eyes would to-night have added to the 
passionate torment of thought. 

As she sat alone in the drawing-room after her short 
and solitary meal her nature bent and trembled under 
the blowing of those winds of fate, which, like gusts 
among autumn trees, have tested or strained or de- 
spoiled the frail single life since time began ; winds of 
love and pity, of desire and memory, of anguish and 
of longing. 

Only her dog kept her company. Sometimes she rose 
out of restlessness, and moved about the room, and the 
dog's eyes would follow her, dumbly dependent. The 
room was dimly lit ; in the mirrors she saw now and 
then the ghostly passage of some one who seemed her- 
self and not herself. The windows were open to a misty 
[ 531 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

garden, waiting for moonrise; in the house all was 
silence ; only from the distant road and village came 
voices sometimes of children, or the sounds of a barrel- 
organ, fragmentary and shrill. 

Loneliness ached in her heart spoke to her from 
the future. And five miles away Oliver, too, was 
lonely and in pain. Pain ! the thought of it, as 
of something embodied and devilish, clutching and 
tearing at a man already crushed and helpless gave 
her no respite. The tears ran down her cheeks as she 
moved to and fro, her hands at her breast. 

Yet she was helpless. What could she do? Even if 
he were free from Alicia, even if he wished to recall her, 
how could he maimed and broken take the steps 
that could alone bring her to his side? If their engage- 
ment had subsisted, horror, catastrophe, the approach 
of death itself, could have done nothing to part them. 
Now, how was a man in such a plight to ask from a 
woman what yet the woman would pay a universe to 
give? And in the face of the man's silence, how could 
the woman speak? 

No ! she began to see her life as the Vicar saw it : 
pledged to large causes, given to drudgeries neces- 
sary, perhaps noble, for which the happy are not 
meant. This quiet shelter of Beechcote could not be 
hers much longer. If she was not to go to Oliver, im- 
possible that she could live on in this rose-scented 
stillness of the old house and garden, surrounded by 
comfort, tranquillity, beauty, while the agony of the 
world rang in her ears wild voices ! speaking 
universal, terrible, representative things, yet in tones 
piteously dear and familiar, close, close to her heart. 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

No ; like Marion Vincent, she must take her life in her 
hands, offering it day by day to this hungry human 
need, not stopping to think, accepting the first task to 
her hand, doing it as she best could. Only so could she 
still her own misery ; tame, silence her own grief ; grief 
first and above all for Oliver, grief for her own youth, 
grief for her parents. She must turn to the poor in that 
mood she had in the first instance refused to allow the 
growth of in herself the mood of one seeking an 
opiate, an anaesthetic. The scrubbing of hospital 
floors; the pacing of dreary streets on mechanical 
errands; the humblest obedience and routine; things 
that must be done, and in the doing of them deaden 
thought these were what she turned to as the only 
means by which life could be lived. 

Oliver! No hope for him? at thirty-five! His 
career broken his ambition defeated. Nothing be- 
fore him but the decline of power and joy ; nights of 
barren endurance, separating days empty and tort- 
ured ; all natural pleasures deadened and destroyed ; 
the dying down of all the hopes and energies that make 
a man. 

She threw herself down beside the open window, 
burying her face on her knees. Would they never let 
her go to him? never let her say to him: 'Oliver, 
take me ! you did love me once what matters 
what came between us? That was in another world. 
Take my life crush out of it any drop of comfort or 
of ease it can give you ! Cruel, cruel to refuse ! It is 
mine to give and yours to spend ! ' 

Juliet Sparling's daughter. There was the great con- 
secrating, liberating fact ! What claim had she to the 
[ 533 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ordinary human joys? What could the ordinary stand- 
ards and expectations of life demand from her? No- 
thing ! nothing that could stem this rush of the heart 
to the beloved the forsaken and suffering and over- 
shadowed beloved. Her future? she held it dross 
apart from Oliver. Dear Sir James ! but he must 
learn to bear it to admit that she stood alone, and 
must judge for herself. What possible bliss or reward 
could there ever be for her but just this : to be allowed 
to watch and suffer with Oliver to bring him the 
invention, the patience, the healing divination of her 
love? And if it were not to be hers, then what remained 
was to go down into the arena, where all that is ugliest 
and most piteous in life bleeds and gasps, and throw 
herself blindly into the fight. Perhaps some heavenly 
voice might still speak through it ; perhaps, beyond its 
jar, some ineffable reunion might dawn 

' First a peace out of pain then a light then thy breast! . . .' 

She trembled through and through. Restraining 
herself, she rose, and went to her locked desk, taking 
from it the closely written journal of her father's life, 
which had now been for months the companion of her 
thoughts, and of the many lonely moments in her days 
and nights. She opened on a passage tragically famil- 
iar to her : 

'It is an April day. Everything is very still and 
balmy. The clouds are low, yet suffused with sun. 
They seem to be tangled among the olives, and all the 
spring green and flowering fruit-trees are like embroid- 
ery on a dim yet shining background of haze, silvery 
and glistening in the sun, blue and purple in the shad- 
[ 534 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

ows. The peach-trees in the olive-garden throw up 
their pink spray among the shimmering grey leaf and 
beside the grey stone walls. Warm breaths steal to me 
over the grass and through the trees ; the last brought 
with it a strong scent of narcissus. A goat tethered to 
a young tree in the orchard has reared its front feet 
against the stem, and is nibbling at the branches. His 
white back shines amid the light spring shade. 

' Far down through the trees I can see the sparkle 
of the waves beyond, the broad plain of blue; 
and on the headland, a mile away, white foam is dash- 
ing. 

'It is the typical landscape of the South, and of 
spring, the landscape, with only differences in detail, 
of Theocritus or Vergil, or the Greek anthologists, 
those most delicate singers of Nature and the South. 
From the beginning it has filled man with the same 
joy, the same yearning, the same despair. 

' In youth and happiness we are the spring the 
young green the blossom the plashing waves. 
Their life is ours and one with ours. 

'But in age and grief? There is no resentment, I 
think; no anger, as though a mourner resented the 
gaiety around him; but, rather, a deep and melan- 
choly wonder at the chasm that has now revealed itself 
between our life and Nature. What does the breach 
mean? the incurable dissonance and alienation? 
Are we greater than Nature, or less? Is the opposition 
final, the prophecy of man's ultimate and hopeless de- 
feat at the hands of Nature? or is it, in the Hegelian 
sense, the mere development of a necessary conflict, 
leading to a profounder and intenser unity? The old, 
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THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

old questions stock possessions of the race, yet 
burnt anew by life into the blood and brain of the 
individual. 

' I see Diana in the garden with her nurse. She has 
been running to and fro, playing with the dog, feeding 
the goat. Now I see her sitting still, her chin on her 
hands, looking out to sea. She seems to droop ; but I 
am sure she is not tired. It is an attitude not very 
natural to a child, especially to a child so full of phys- 
ical health and vigour ; yet she often falls into it. 

'When I see it I am filled with dread. She knows 
nothing, yet the cloud seems to be upon her. Does she 
already ask herself questions about her father - 
about this solitary life? 

'Juliet was not herself not in her full sane mind 
when I promised her. That I know. But I could no 
more have refused the promise than water to her dying 
lips. One awful evening of fever and hallucination I 
had been sitting by her for a long time. Her thoughts, 
poor sufferer, had been full of blood it is hard to 
write it but there is the truth a physical horror of 
blood the blood in which her dress the dress they 
took from her, her first night in prison was once 
steeped. She saw it everywhere, on her hands, the 
sheets, the walls ; it was a nausea, an agony of brain 
and flesh ; and yet it was, of course, but a mere symbol 
and shadow of the manifold agony she had gone 
through. I will not attempt to describe what I felt - 
what the man who knows that his neglect and selfish- 
ness drove her the first steps along this infernal road 
must feel to his last hour. But at last we were able 
- the nurse and I to soothe her a little. The night- 
[ 536 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

mare lifted, we gave her food, and the nurse brushed 
her poor brown hair, and tied round it, loosely, the 
little black scarf she likes to wear. We lifted her on her 
pillows, and he.r white face grew calm, and so lovely - 
though, as we thought, very near to death. Her hair, 
which was cut in prison, had grown again a little to 
her neck, and could not help curling. It made her look 
a child again poor, piteous child ! so did the little 
scarf, tied under her chin and the tiny proportions 
to which all her frame had shrunk. 

'She lifted her face to mine, as I bent over her, 
kissed me, and asked for you. You were brought, and 
I took you on my knee, showing you pictures, to keep 
you quiet. But every other minute, almost, your eyes 
looked away from the book to her, with that grave, 
considering look, as though a question were behind the 
look, to which your little brain could not yet give 
shape. My strange impression was that the question 
was there in the mind fully formed, like the 
Platonic "ideas" in Heaven; but that, physically, 
there was no power to make the word-copy that could 
have alone communicated it to us. Your mother 
looked at you in return, intently quite still. When 
you began to get restless, I lifted you up to kiss her; 
you were startled, perhaps, by the cold of her face, and 
struggled away. A little colour came into her cheeks ; 
she followed you hungrily with her eyes as you were 
carried off ; then she signed to me, and it was my hand 
that brushed away her tears. 

' Immediately afterwards she began to speak, with 
wonderful will and self-control, and she asked me that, 
till you were grown up and knowledge became inev- 
[ 537 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

itable, I should tell you nothing. There was to be no 
talk of her, no picture of her, no letters. As far as pos- 
sible, during your childhood and youth, she was to be 
to you as though she had never existed. What her 
thought was exactly she was too feeble to explain; nor 
was her mind strong enough to envisage all the conse- 
quences to me, as well as to you of what she pro- 
posed. No doubt it tortured her to think of you as 
growing up under the cloud of her name and fate, and 
with her natural and tragic impetuosity she asked 
what she did. 

' " One day there will come some one who will 
love her in spite of me. Then you and he shall 
tell her." 

' I pointed out to her that such a course would mean 
that I must change my name and live abroad. Her 
eyes assented, with a look of relief. She knew that I 
had already developed the tastes of the nomad and 
the sun-worshipper, that I was a student, happy in 
books and solitude ; and I have no doubt that the pict- 
ure her mind formed at the moment of some such hid- 
den life together, as we have actually led, you and I, 
since her death, soothed and consoled her. With her 
intense and poetic imagination, she knew well what 
had happened to us, as well as to herself. 

' So here we are in this hermitage ; and except in a 
few passing perfunctory words, I have never spoken to 
you of her. Whether what I have done is wise I cannot 
tell. I could not help it ; and if I had broken my word, 
remorse would have killed me. I shall not die, how- 
ever, without telling you if only I have warning 
enough. 

[ 538 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' But supposing there is no warning then all that 
I write now, and much else, will be in your hands some 
day. There are moments when I feel a rush of comfort 
at the notion that I may never have to watch your 
face as you hear the story ; there are others when the 
longing to hold you child as you still are against 
my heart, and feel your tears your tears for her - 
mingling with mine, almost sweeps me off my feet. 

'And when you grow older my task in all its aspects 
will be harder still. You have inherited her beauty on 
a larger, ampler scale, and the time will come for lov- 
ers. You will hear of your mother then for the first 
time ; my mind trembles even now at the thought of it. 
For the story may work out ill, or well, in a hundred 
different ways ; and what we did in love may one day 
be seen as an error and folly, avenging itself not on us, 
but on our child. 

' Nevertheless, my Diana, if it had to be done again, 
it must still be done. Your mother, before she died, 
was tortured by no common pains of body and spirit. 
Yet she never thought of herself she was tormented 
for us. If her vision was clouded, her prayer unwise - 
in that hour, no argument, no resistance was possible. 

'The man who loves you will love you well, my 
child. You are not made to be lightly or faithlessly 
loved. He will carry you through the passage perilous 
if I am no longer there to help. To him in the dis- 
tant years I commit you. On him be my blessing, 
and the blessing, too, of that poor ghost whose hands 
I seem to hold in mine as I write. Let him not be too 
proud to take it!' 

Diana put down the book with a low sob that 
[ 539 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

sounded through the quiet room. Then she opened the 
garden-door and stepped on to the terrace. The night 
was cold but not frosty; there was a waning moon 
above the autumnal fulness of the garden and the 
woods. 

A 'spirit in her feet' impelled her. She went back to 
the house, found a cloak and hat, put out the lamps, 
and sent the servants to bed. Then noiselessly she once 
more undid the drawing-room door, and stole out into 
the garden and across the lawn. Soon she was in the 
lime-walk, the first yellow leaves crackling beneath her 
feet; then in the kitchen garden, where the apples 
shone dimly on the laden boughs, where sunflowers 
and dahlias and marigolds, tall white daisies and late 
roses the ghosts of their daylight selves dreamt 
and drooped under the moon ; where the bees slept and 
only great moths were abroad. And so on to the climb- 
ing path and the hollows of the down. She walked 
quickly along the edge of it, through hanging woods of 
beech that clothed the hillside. Sometimes the trees 
met in majestic darkness above her head, and the path 
was a glimmering mystery before her. Sometimes the 
ground broke away on her left abruptly in great 
chasms, torn from the hillside, stripped of trees, and 
open to the stars. Down rushed the steep slopes to the 
plain, clad in the decaying leaf and mast of former 
years, and at the edges of these precipitous glades, or 
scattered at long intervals across them, great single 
trees emerged, the types and masters of the forest, 
their trunks, incomparably tall, and all their noble 
limbs, now thinly veiled by a departing leafage, drawn 
sharp, in black and silver, on the pale background of 
[ 540 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the chalk plain. Nothing so grandiose as these climb- 
ing beech woods of middle England ! by day, as it 
were, some vast procession marching joyously over 
hill and dale to the music of the birds and the wind ; 
and at night, a brooding host, silent yet animate, 
waiting the signal of the dawn. 

Diana passed through them, drinking in the exalta- 
tion of their silence and their strength, yet driven on 
by the mere weakness and foolishness of love. By fol- 
lowing the curve of the down she could reach a point 
on the hillside whence, on a rising ground to the north, 
Tallyn was visible. She hastened thither through the 
night. Once she was startled by a shot fired from a 
plantation near the path, trees began to rustle and 
dogs to bark, and she fled on, in terror lest the Tallyn 
keepers might discover her. Alack ! for whose pleas- 
ure were they watching now? 

The trees fell back. She reached the bare shoulder of 
the down. Northward and eastward spread the plain ; 
and on the low hill in front her eyes discerned the pale 
patch of Tallyn, flanked by the darkness of the woods. 
And in that dim front, a light surely a light? in 
an upper window. She sank down in a hollow of the 
chalk, her eyes upon the house, murmuring and weep- 
ing. 

So she watched with Oliver, as once at the mo- 
ment of her sharpest pain he had watched with her. 
But whereas in that earlier night everything was in the 
man's hands to will or to do. the woman felt herself 
now helpless and impotent. His wealth, his mother, 
hedged him from her. And if not, he had forgotten her 
altogether for Alicia; he cared for her no more; it 
[ 541 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

would merely add to his burden to be reminded of her. 
As to Alicia the girl who could cruelly leave him 
there, in that house of torture, to go and dance and 
amuse herself leave him in his pain, his mother in 
her sorrow Diana's whole being was shaken first 
with an anguish of resentful scorn, in which everything 
personal to herself disappeared. Then by an im- 
mediate revulsion the thought of Alicia was a 
thought of deliverance. Gone? gone from between 
them? the flaunting, triumphant, heartless face? 

Suddenly it seemed to Diana that she was there be- 
side him, in the darkened room that he heard her, 
and looked up. 

' Diana !' 

'Oliver!' She knelt beside him she raised his 
head on her breast she whispered to him ; and at last 
he slept. Then hostile forms crowded about her, for- 
bidding her, driving her away even Sir James Chide 
- in the name of her own youth. And she heard her 
own answer : ' Dear friend ! think ! remember ! 
Let me stay ! let me stay ! Am I not the child of 
sorrow? Here is my natural place my only joy/ 

And she broke down into bitter helpless tears, plead- 
ing, it seemed, with things and persons inexorable. 

Meanwhile, in Beechcote village, that night, a man 
slept lightly, thinking of Diana. Hugh Roughsedge, 
bronzed and full of honours, a man developed and ma- 
tured, with the future in his hands, had returned that 
afternoon to his old home. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

How is she?' 

Mrs. Colwood shook her head sadly. 

'Not well and not happy/ 

The questioner was Hugh Roughsedge. The young 
soldier had walked up to Beechcote immediately after 
luncheon, finding it impossible to restrain his impa- 
tience longer. Diana had not expected him so soon, 
and had slipped out for her daily half -hour with Betty 
Dyson, who had had a slight stroke, and was failing 
fast. So that Mrs. Colwood was at Roughsedge's dis- 
cretion. But he was not taking all the advantage of it 
that he might have done. The questions with which 
his mind was evidently teeming came out but slowly. 

Little Mrs. Colwood surveyed him from time to time 
with sympathy and pleasure. Her round child-like 
eyes under their long lashes told her everything that 
as a woman she wanted to know. What an improve- 
ment in looks and manner what indefinable gains in 
significance and self-possession! Danger, command, 
responsibility, those great tutors of men, had come in 
upon the solid yet malleable stuff of which the char- 
acter was made, moulding and polishing, striking away 
defects, disengaging and accenting qualities. Who 
could ever have foreseen that Hugh might some day 
be described as 'a man of the world'? Yet if that 
vague phrase were to be taken in its best sense, as 
describing a personality both tempered and refined by 
[ 543 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

the play of the world's forces upon it, it might cer- 
tainly be now used of the man before her. 

He was handsomer than ever ; bronzed by Nigerian 
sun, all the superfluous flesh marched off him; every 
muscle in his frame taut and vigorous. And at the 
same time a new self-confidence apparently quite 
unconscious, and the inevitable result of a strong and 
testing experience was enabling him to bring his 
powers to bear and into play, as he had never yet done. 

She recalled, with some confusion, that she and 
Diana? had tacitly thought of him as good, but 
stupid. On the contrary, was she, perhaps, in the 
presence of some one destined to do great things for 
his country? to lay hold without intending it, as it 
were, and by the left hand on high distinction? 
Were women, on the whole, bad judges of young men? 
She recalled a saying of Dr. Roughsedge, that ' mothers 
never know how clever their sons are/ Perhaps the 
blindness extends to other eyes than mothers'? 

Meanwhile, she got from him all the news she could. 
He had been, it seemed, concerned in the vast opera- 
tion of bringing a new African Empire into being. She 
listened, dazzled, while in the very simplest, baldest 
phrases he described the curbing of slave-raiders, the 
winning of populations, the grappling with the desert, 
the opening out of river highways, whereof in his 
seven months he had been the fascinated beholder. 
As to his own exploits, he was ingeniously silent ; but 
she knew them already. A military expedition against 
two revolted and slave-raiding emirs, holding strong 
positions on the great river; a few officers borrowed 
from home to stiffen a local militia; hot fighting 
[ 544 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

against great odds ; half a million of men released from 
a reign of hell ; tyranny broken, and the British pax 
extended over regions a third as large as India smil- 
ing prosperity within its pale, bestial devastation and 
cruelty without these things she knew, or had been 
able to imagine from the newspapers. According to 
him, it had been all the doing of other men. She knew 
better ; but soon found it of no use to interrupt him. 

Meanwhile she dared not ask him why he had come 
home. The campaign, indeed, was over; but he had 
been offered, it appeared, an administrative appoint- 
ment. 

'And you mean to go back?' 

'Perhaps/ 

He coloured and looked restlessly out of the window. 

Mrs. Colwood understood the look, and felt it was, 
indeed, hard upon him that he must put up with her so 
long. In reality, he too was conscious of new pleasure 
in an old acquaintance. He had forgotten what a dear 
little thing she was : how prettily round-faced, yet 
delicate ethereal in all her proportions, with the 
kindest eyes. She too had grown by the mere con- 
tact with Diana's fate. Within her tiny frame the soul 
of her had risen to maternal heights, embracing and 
sustaining Diana. 

He would have given the world to question her. But 
after her first answer to his first inquiry he had fallen 
tongue-tied on the subject of Diana, and Nigeria had 
absorbed conversation. She, on her side, wished him to 
know many things, but did not see how to begin upon 
them. 

At last she attempted it. 

[ 545 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'You have heard of our election? And what hap- 
pened ? ' 

He nodded. His mother had kept him informed. 
He understood Marsham had been badly hurt. Was it 
really so desperate? 

In a cautious voice, watching the window, Muriel 
told what she knew. The recital was pitiful ; but Hugh 
Roughsedge sat impassive, making no comments. She 
felt that in this quarter the young man was adamant. 

'I suppose' --he turned his face from her 'Miss 
Mallory does not now go to Tallyn/ 

'No/ She hesitated, looking at her companion, a 
score of feelings mingling in her mind. Then she broke 
out : ' But she would like to ! ' 

His startled look met hers; she was dismayed at 
what she had done. Yet, how not to give him warning ? 
-this loyal young fellow, feeding himself on futile 
hopes ! 

' You mean she still thinks of Marsham? ' 

'Of nothing else/ she said, impetuously 'of no- 
thing else!' 

He frowned and winced. 

She resumed : ' It is like her so like her ! is n't 
it?' 

Her soft pitiful eyes, into which the tears had sprung, 
pressed the question on him. 

'I thought there was a cousin Miss Drake?' he 
said, roughly. 

Mrs. Col wood hesitated. 

' It is said that all that is broken off.' 

He was silent. But his watch was on the garden. 
And suddenly, on the long grass path, Diana appeared, 
[ 546 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

side by side with the Vicar. Roughsedge sprang up. 
Muriel was arrested by Diana's face, and by some- 
thing rigid in the carriage of the head. What had 
the Vicar been saying to her? she asked herself, 
angrily. Never was there anything less discreet than 
the Vicar's handling of human nature ! female hu- 
man nature, in particular. 

Hugh Roughsedge opened the glass door, and went 
to meet them. Diana, at sight of him, gave a bewild- 
ered look, as though she scarcely knew him then 
a perfunctory hand. 

'Captain Roughsedge! They did n't tell me ' 

'I want to speak to you,' said the Vicar, peremp- 
torily, to Mrs. Col wood ; and he carried her off round 
the corner of the house. 

Diana gazed after them, and Roughsedge thought 
he saw her totter. 

' You look so ill ! ' he said, stooping over her. ' Come 
and sit down.' 

His boyish nervousness and timidity left him. The 
strong man emerged and took command. He guided 
her to a garden seat, under a drooping lime. She 
sank upon the seat, quite unable to stand, beckoning 
him to stay by her. So he stood near, reluctantly 
waiting, his heart contracting at the sight of her. 

At last she recovered herself and sat up. 

'It was some bad news/ she said, looking at him 
piteously, and holding out her hand again. ' It is too 
bad of me to greet you like this/ 

He took her hand, and his own self-control broke 
down. He raised it to his lips with a stifled cry. 

'Don't! don't!' said Diana, helplessly. 'In- 
[ 547 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

deed there is nothing the matter I am only fool- 
ish. It is so so good of you to care/ She drew her 
hand from his, raised it to her brow, and, drawing a 
long breath, pushed back the hair from he,r face. She 
was like a person struggling against some torturing 
restraint, not knowing where to turn for help. 

But at the word 'care' he pulled himself together. 
He sat down beside her, and plunged straight into his 
declaration. He went at it with the same resolute 
simplicity that he was accustomed to throw into his 
military duty, nor could she stop him in the least. His 
unalterable affection; his changed and improved pro- 
spects; a staff appointment at home if she accepted 
him; the Nigerian post if she refused him these 
things he put before her in the natural manly speech 
of a young Englishman sorely in love, yet quite in- 
capable of 'high flights/ It was very evident that he 
had pondered what he was to say through the days 
and nights of his exile; that he was doing precisely 
what he had always planned to do, and with his whole 
heart in the business. She tried once or twice to in- 
terrupt him, but he did not mean to be interrupted, 
and she was forced to hear it out. 

At the end she gave a little gasp. 

' Oh, Hugh ! ' His name, given him for the first time, 
fell so forlornly it was such a breathing out of trou- 
ble and pity and despair that his heart took an- 
other and a final plunge downward. He had known 
all through that there was no hope for him; this tone, 
this aspect settled it. But she stretched out her hands 
to him, tenderly appealing. 'Hugh I shall have 
to tell you but I am ashamed/ 
[ 548 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

He looked at her in silence a moment, then asked 
her why. The tears rose brimming in her eyes her 
hands still in his. 

' Hugh I I have always loved Oliver Mar- 
sham and I cannot think of any one else. You 
know what has happened?' 

He saw the sob swelling in her white throat. 

'Yes!' he said, passionately. 'It is horrible. But 
you cannot go to him you cannot marry him. He 
was a coward when he should have stood by you. He 
cannot claim you now/ 

She withdrew her hands. 

'No!' The passion in her voice matched his own. 
' But I would give the world if he could and would !' 

There was a pause. Steadily the woman gained 
upon her own weakness and beat it down. She re- 
sumed: 

' I must tell you because it is the only way - 
for us two to be real friends again and I want 
a friend so much. The news of Oliver is is terrible. 
The Vicar had just seen Mr. Lankester who is stay- 
ing there. He is nearly blind and the pain!' Her 
hand clinched she threw her head back. 'Oh! I 
can't speak of it! And it may go on for years. The 
doctors seem to be all at sea. They say he ought to re- 
cover but they doubt whether he will. He has lost 
all heart and hope he can't help himself. He 
lies there like a log all day despairing. And, please 
-what am / doing here?' She turned upon him 
impetuously, her cheeks flaming. 'They want help 
there is no one. Mrs. Fotheringham hardly ever comes. 
They think Lady Lucy is in a critical state of health 
[ 549 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

too. She won't admit it she does everything as 
usual. But she is very frail and ill, and it depresses 
Oliver. And I am here ! useless and helpless. 
Oh, why can't I go? why can't I go?' She laid her 
face upon her arms, on the bench, hiding it from him ; 
but he saw the convulsion of her whole frame. 

Beside a passion so absolute and so piteous he felt 
his own claim shrink into nothingness impossible, 
even, to give it voice again. He straightened himself 
in silence ; with an effort of the whole man, the lover 
put on the friend. 

But you can go,' he said, a little hoarsely, 'if you 
feel like that.' 

She raised herself suddenly. 

'How do I know that he wants me? how do I 
know that he would even see me?' 

Once more her cheeks were crimson. She had shown 
him her love unveiled ; now he was to see her doubt - 
the shame that tormented her. He felt that it was to 
heal him she had spoken, and he could do nothing to 
repay her. He could neither chide her for a quixotic 
self-sacrifice, which might never be admitted or al- 
lowed ; nor protest, on Marsham's behalf, against it, 
for he knew, in truth, nothing of the man; least of all 
could he plead for himself. He could only sit, staring 
like a fool, tongue-tied ; till Diana, mastering, for his 
sake, the emotion to which, partly also for his sake, 
she had given rein, gradually led the conversation 
back to safer and cooler ground. All the little invol- 
untary arts came in by which a woman regains com- 
mand of herself, and thereby of her companion. Her 
hat tired her head; she removed it, and the beautiful 
[ 550 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

hair underfieath, falling into confusion, must be put 
in its place by skilled instinctive fingers, every move- 
ment answering to a similar self-restraining effort in the 
mind within. She dried her tears ; she drew closer the 
black scarf round the shoulders of her white dress; 
she straightened the violets at her belt Muriel's 
mid-day gift till he beheld her, white and suffering 
indeed, but lovely and composed queen of herself. 

She made him talk of his adventures, and he obeyed 
her, partly to help her in the struggle he perceived, 
partly because in the position beneath and beyond 
all hope to which she had reduced him, it was the 
only way by which he could save anything out of the 
wreck. And she bravely responded. She could and 
did lend him enough of her mind to make it worth his 
while. A friend should not come home to her from 
perils of land and sea, and find her ungrateful a 
niggard of sympathy and praise. 

So that when Dr. and Mrs. Roughsedge appeared, 
and Muriel returned with them, Mrs. Roughsedge, all 
on edge with anxiety, could make very little of what 
had what must have occurred. Diana, carved 
in white wax but for the sensitive involuntary move- 
ments of lip and eyebrow, was listening to a descrip- 
tion of an English embassy sent through the length 
and breadth of the most recently conquered province 
of Nigeria. The embassy took the news of peace and 
imperial rule to a country devastated the year before 
by the most hideous of slave-raids. The road it 
marched by was strewn with the skeletons of slaves - 
had been so strewn probably for thousands of years. 
' One night my horse trod unawares on two skeletons 
[ 551 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

- women locked in each other's arms, "said Hugh ; 
' scores of others round them. In the evening we camped 
at a village where every able-bodied male had been 
killed the year before/ 

'Shot?' asked the Doctor. 

'Oh, dear, no! That would have been to waste 
ammunition. A limb was hacked off, and they bled 
to death/ 

His mother was looking at the speaker with all her 
eyes, but she did not hear a word he said. Was he pale 
or not? 

Diana shuddered. 

'And that is stopped for ever?' Her eyes were on 
the speaker. 

'As long as our flag flies there/ said the soldier, 
simply. 

Her look kindled. For a moment she was the shadow, 
the beautiful shadow, of her old Imperialist self the 
proud, disinterested lover of her country. 

The Doctor shook his head. 

'Don't forget the gin, and the gin-traders on the 
other side, Master Hugh.' 

'They don't show their noses in the new provinces,' 
said the young man, quietly; 'we shall straighten that 
out too, in the long run you'll see.' 

But Diana had ceased to listen. Mrs. Roughsedge, 
turning toward her, and with increasing foreboding, 
saw, as it were, the cloud of an inward agony, suddenly 
recalled, creep upon the fleeting brightness of her 
look, as the evening shade mounts upon and captures 
a sunlit hillside. The mother, in spite of her native 
optimism, had never cherished any real hope of her 
[ 552 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

son's success. But neither had she expected, on the 
other side, a certainty so immediate and so unquali- 
fied. She saw before her no settled or resigned grief. 
The Tallyn tragedy had transformed what had been 
almost a recovered serenity, a restored and patient 
equilibrium, into something violent, tumultuous, un- 
stable prophesying action. But what poor child ! 
- could the action be? 

'Poor Hugh !' said Mrs. Roughsedge to her husband 
on their return, as she stood beside him, in his study. 
Her voice was low, for Hugh had only just gone up- 
stairs, and the little house was thinly built. 

The Doctor rubbed his nose thoughtfully, and then 
looked round him for a cigarette. 

'Yes/ he said, slowly; 'but he enjoyed his walk 
home/ 

' Henry !' 

Hugh had walked back to the village with Mrs. Col- 
wood, who had an errand there, and it was true that 
he had talked much to her out of earshot of his par- 
ents, and had taken a warm farewell of her at the end. 

'Why am I to be " Henry "-ed?' inquired the 
Doctor, beginning on his cigarette. 

'Because you must know/ said his wife, in an en- 
ergetic whisper, 'that Hugh had almost certainly pro- 
posed to Miss Mallory before we arrived, and she had 
refused him 1 / 

The Doctor meditated. 

' I still say that Hugh en joyed his walk/ he repeated ; 
' I trust he will have others of the same kind with 
the same person.' 

[ 553 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Henry, you are really incorrigible!' cried his wife. 
' How can you make jokes on such a thing with 
that girl's face before you!' 

'Not at all/ said the Doctor, protesting. 'I am not 
making jokes, Patricia. But what you women never 
will understand is, that it was not a woman but a man 
that wrote - 

" If she be not fair for me 
What care I "' 

'Henry!' and his wife, beside herself, tried to stop 
his mouth with her hand. 

'All right, I won't finish,' said the Doctor, placidly, 
disengaging himself. ' But let me assure you, Patricia, 
whether you like it or not, that that is a male senti- 
ment. I quite agree that no nice woman could have 
written it. But, then, Hugh is not a nice woman nor 
ami.' 

'I thought you were so fond of her!' said his wife, 
reproachfully. 

'MissMallory? I adore her. But, to tell the truth, 
Patricia, I want a daughter-in-law and and grand- 
children,' added the Doctor, deliberately, stretching 
out his long limbs to the fire. ' I admit that my re- 
marks may be quite irrelevant and ridiculous but I 
repeat that in spite of everything Hugh enjoyed 
his walk.' 

One October evening, a week later, Lady Lucy sat 
waiting for Sir James Chide at Tallyn Hall. Sir James 
had invited himself to dine and sleep, and Lady Lucy 
was expecting him in the upstairs sitting-room, a 
medley of French clocks and china figures, where she 
[ 554 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

generally sat now, in order to be within quick and easy 
reach of Oliver. 

She was reading, or pretending to read, by the fire, 
listening all the time for the sound of the carriage 
outside. Meanwhile, the silence of the immense house 
oppressed her. It was broken only by the chiming of 
a carillon clock in the hall below. The little tune it 
played, fatuously gay, teased her more insistently 
each time she heard it. It must really be removed. 
She wondered Oliver had not already complained 
of it. 

A number of household and estate worries oppressed 
her thoughts. How was she to cope with them? 
Capable as she was, 'John' had always been there to 
advise her, in emergency or Oliver. She suspected 
the house-steward of dishonesty. And the agent of the 
estate had brought her that morning complaints of 
the head game-keeper that were most disquieting. 
What did they want with game-keepers now? Who 
would ever shoot at Tallyn again? With impatience 
she felt herself entangled in the -endless machinery of 
wealth and the pleasures of wealth, so easy to set in 
motion, and so difficult to stop, even when all the savour 
has gone out of it. She was a tired, broken woman, 
with an invalid son ; and the management of her great 
property, in which her capacities and abilities had 
taken for so long an imperious and instinctive delight, 
had become a mere burden. She longed to creep into 
some quiet place, alone with Oliver, out of reach of this 
army of servants and dependents, these impassive and 
unresponsive faces. 

The crunching of the carriage-wheels on the gravel 
[ 555 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

outside gave her a start of something like pleasure. 
Among the old friends there was no one now she cared 
so much to see as Sir James Chide. Sir James had 
lately left Parliament and politics, and had taken a 
judgeship. She understood that he had lost interest 
in politics after and in consequence of John Ferrier's 
death; and she knew, of course, that he had refused 
the Attorney-Generalship, on the ground of the treat- 
ment meted out to his old friend and chief. During the 
month of Oliver's second election, moreover, she had 
been very conscious of Sir James's hostility to her son. 
Intercourse between him and Tallyn had practically 
ceased. 

Since the accident, however, he had been kind 
very kind. 

The door opened, and Sir James was announced. 
She greeted him with a tremulous and fluttering 
warmth that for a moment embarrassed her visitor, 
accustomed to the old excess of manner and dignity, 
wherewith she kept her little world in awe. He saw, 
too, that the havoc wrought by age and grief had gone 
forward rapidly since he had seen her last. 

'I am afraid there is no better news of Oliver?' he 
said, gravely, as he sat down beside her. 

She shook her head. 

'We are in despair. Nothing touches the pain but 
morphia. And he has lost heart himself so much dur- 
ing the last fortnight.' 

'You have had any fresh opinion?' 

'Yes. The last man told me he still believed the 
injury was curable, but that Oliver must do a great 
deal for himself. And that he seems incapable of doing. 
[ 556 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

It is, of course, the shock to the nerves, and the 
general disappointment - 

Her voice shook. She stared into the fire. 

'You mean about politics?' said Sir James, after 
a pause. 

' Yes. Whenever I speak cheerfully to him, he asks 
me what there is to live for. He has been driven out of 
politics by a conspiracy - 

Sir James moved impatiently. 

'With health he would soon recover everything/ 
he said, rather shortly. 

She made no reply, and her shrunken, faded look 
as of one with no energy for hope again roused his 
pity. 

' Tell me/ he said, bending towards her - - ' I don't 
ask from idle curiosity but has there been any 
truth in the rumour of Oliver's engagement to Miss 
Drake?' 

Lady Lucy raised her head sharply. The light came 
back to her eyes. 

' She was engaged to him, and three weeks after his 
accident she threw him over.' 

Sir James made a sound of amazement. 

Lady Lucy went on : 

'She left him and me, barely a fortnight afterwards, 

to go to a big country-house party in the North. That 

will show you what she's made of. Then she wrote 

- a hypocritical letter putting it on him. He must 

not be agitated, nor feel her any burden upon him ; so, 

for his sake, she broke it off. Of course, they were to 

be cousins and friends again just as before. She had 

arranged it all to her own satisfaction and was 

[ 557 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

meanwhile flirting desperately, as we heard from va- 
rious people in the North, with Lord Philip Darcy. 
Oliver showed me her letter, and at last told me the 
whole story. I persuaded him not to answer it. A fort- 
night ago, she wrote again, proposing to come back 
here to "look after" us poor things! This time, 
/ replied. She would like Tally n, no doubt, as a place 
of retreat, should other plans fail ; but it will not be 
open to her!' 

It was not energy now vindictive energy that 
was lacking to the personality before him ! 

'An odious young woman/ exclaimed Sir James, 
lifting hands and eyebrows. 'I am afraid I always 
thought so, saving your presence, Lady Lucy. How- 
ever, she will want a retreat ; for her plans in the 
quarter you name have not a chance of success.' 

'I am delighted to hear it!' said Lady Lucy, still 
erect and flushed. 'What do you know?' 

' Simply that Lord Philip is not in the least likely 
to marry her, having, I imagine, views in quite other 
quarters so I am told. But he is the least scrupulous 
of men and no doubt if, at Eastham, she threw her- 
self into his arms "what mother's son," et cetera. 
Only, if she imagined herself to have caught him - 
such an old and hardened stager ! in a week her 
abilities are less than I supposed.' 

'Alicia's self-conceit was always her weak point.' 

But as she spoke the force imparted by resentment 
died away. Lady Lucy sank back in her chair. 

'And Oliver felt it very much?' asked Sir James, 
after a pause, his shrewd eyes upon her. 

' He was wounded, of course he has been more 
[ 558 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

depressed since ; but I have never believed that he was 
in love with her.' 

Sir James did not pursue the subject, but the vivac- 
ity of the glance bent now on the fire, now on his com- 
panion, betrayed the marching thoughts behind. 

* Will Oliver see me this evening?' he inquired, pre- 
sently. 

' I hope so. He promised me to make the effort.' 

A servant knocked at the door. It was Oliver's 
valet. 

' Please, my lady, Mr. Marsham wished me to say he 
was afraid he would not be strong enough to see Sir 
James Chide to-night. He is very sorry and would 
Sir James be kind enough to come and see him after 
breakfast to-morrow?' 

Lady Lucy threw up her hands in a little gesture of 
despair. Then she rose, and went to speak to the serv- 
ant in the doorway. 

When she returned she looked whiter and more 
shrivelled than before. 

' Is he worse to-night?' asked Sir James, gently. 

'It is the pain,' she said, in a muffled voice; 'and 
we can't touch it yet. He must n't have any more 
morphia yet.' 

She sat down once more. Sir James, the best of 
gossips, glided off into talk of London, and of old com- 
mon friends, trying to amuse and distract her. But he 
realised that she scarcely listened to him, and that 
he was talking to a woman whose life was being ground 
away between a last affection and the torment it had 
power to cause her. A new Lady Lucy, indeed ! Had 
any one ever dared to pity her before? 
[ 559 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Meanwhile, five miles off, a girl whom he loved as a 
daughter was eating her heart out for sorrow over this 
mother and son consumed, as he guessed, with the 
wild desire to offer them, in any sacrificial mode they 
pleased, her youth and her sweet self. In one way or 
another he had found out that Hugh Roughsedge had 
been sent about his business of course, with all the 
usual softening formulae. 

And now there was a kind of mute conflict going on 
between himself and Mrs. Colwood on the one side, and 
Diana on the other side. 

No, she should not spend and waste her youth in 
the vain attempt to mend this house of tragedy ! it 
was not to be tolerated not to be thought of. She 
would suffer, but she would get over it; and Oliver 
would probably die. Sooner or later she would begin 
life afresh, if only he was able to stand between her and 
the madness in her heart. 

But as he sat there, looking at Lady Lucy, he real- 
ised that it might have been better for his powers and 
efficacy as a counsellor if he, too, had held aloof from 
this house of pain. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

IT was about ten o'clock at night. Lankester, who 
had arrived from London an hour before, had said 
good -night to Lady Lucy and Sir James, and had 
slipped into Marsham's room. Marsham had barred his 
door that evening against both his mother and Sir 
James. But Lankester was not excluded. 

Off and on and in the intervals of his Parliamentary 
work he had been staying at Tallyn for some days. A 
letter from Lady Lucy, in reply to an inquiry, had 
brought him down. Oliver had received him with few 
words indeed, with an evident distaste for words ; 
but at the end of the first day's visit had asked him 
abruptly, peremptorily even, to come again. 

When he entered Marsham's room he found the 
invalid asleep under the influence of morphia. The 
valet, a young fellow, was noiselessly putting things 
straight. Lankester noticed that he looked pale. 

1 A bad time?' he said, in a whisper, standing beside 
the carefully regulated spinal couch on which Mar- 
sham was sleeping. 

'Awful, sir. He was fair beside himself till we gave 
him the morphia.' 

'Is there anybody sitting up?' 

'No. He'll be quiet now for six or seven hours. I 
shall be in the next room.' 

The young man spoke wearily. It was clear that the 
moral strain of what he had just seen had weighed 
[ 561 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

upon him as much as the fatigue of the day's attend- 
ance. 

'Come!' said Lankester, looking at him. 'You 
want a good night. Go to my room. I'll lie down* 
there.' He pointed to Marsham's bedroom, now ap- 
propriated to the valet, while the master, for the sake 
of space and cheerfulness, had been moved into the 
sitting-room. The servant hesitated, protested, and 
was at last persuaded, being well aware of Marsham's 
liking for this queer, serviceable being. 

Lankester took various directions from him, and 
packed him off. Then, instead of going to the adjoin- 
ing room, he chose a chair beside a shaded lamp, and 
said to himself that he would sleep by the fire. 

Presently the huge house sank into a silence even 
more profound than that in which it was now steeped 
by day. A cold autumn wind blew round about it. 
After midnight the wind dropped, and the temperature 
with it. The first severe frost laid its grip on forest and 
down and garden. Silently the dahlias and the roses 
died, the leaves shrivelled and blackened, and a cold 
and glorious moon rose upon the ruins of the summer. 

Lankester dozed and woke, keeping up the fire, and 
wrapping himself in an eider-down, with which the 
valet had provided him. In the small hours he walked 
across the room to look at Marsham. He was lying 
still and breathing heavily. His thick fair hair, always 
slightly grey from the time he was thirty, had become 
much greyer of late; the thin handsome face was 
drawn and damp, the eyes cavernous, the lips blood- 
less. Even in sleep his aspect showed what he had 
suffered. 

[ 562 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Lankester's whole being softened into pity. Yet he 
had no illusions as to the man before him a man of 
inferior morale and weak will, incapable, indeed, of the 
clever brutalities by which the wicked flourish ; incap- 
able also of virtues that must, after all, be tolerably 
common, or the world would run much more lamely 
than it does. Straight, honourable, unselfish fellows - 
Lankester knew scores of them, rich and poor, clever 
and slow, who could and did pass the tests of life with- 
out flinching ; who could produce in any society as 
politicians or green-grocers an impression of up- 
rightness and power, an effect of character, that Mar- 
sham, for all his ability, had never produced, or, in the 
long run, and as he came to be known, had never sus- 
tained. 

Well, what then? In the man looking down on Mar- 
sham not a tinge of pharisaic condemnation mingled 
with the strange clearness of his judgement. What are 
we all the best of us? Lankester had not parted, 
like the majority of his contemporaries, with the 'sense 
of sin/ A vivid, spiritual imagination, trained for 
years on prayer and reverie, showed him the world and 
human nature his own first and foremost every- 
where flecked and stained with evil. For the man of 
religion the difference between saint and sinner has 
never been as sharp as for the man of the world ; it is for 
the difference between holiness and sin that he reserves 
his passion. And the stricken or repentant sinner is at 
all times nearer to his heart than the men ' who need no 
repentance/ 

Moreover, it is in men like Lankester that the ascetic 
temper common to all ages and faiths is perpetually re- 
[ 563 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

produced, the temper which makes of suffering itself a 
divide and sacred thing the symbol of a mystery. In 
his own pity for this emaciated, arrested youth he read 
the pledge of a divine sympathy, the secret voice of a 
God suffering for and with man, which, in its myriad 
forms, is the primeval faith of the race. Where a 
thinker of another type would have seen mere aimless 
waste and mutilation, this Evangelical optimist bared 
the head and bent the knee. The spot whereon he 
stood was holy ground, and above this piteous sleeper 
heavenly dominations, princedoms, powers, hung in 
watch. 

He sank, indeed, upon his knees beside the sleeper. 
In the intense and mystical concentration, which the 
habit of his life had taught him, the prayer to which he 
committed himself took a marvellous range without 
ever losing its detail, its poignancy. The pain, moral 
and physical, of man pain of the savage, the slave, 
the child ; the miseries of innumerable persons he had 
known, whose stories had been confided to him, whose 
fates he had shared ; the anguish of irreparable failure, 
of missed, untasted joy ; agonies brutal or obscure, .of 
nerve and brain! his mind and soul surrendered 
themselves to these impressions, shook under the 
storm and scourge of them. His prayer was not his 
own ; it seemed to be the Spirit wrestling with Itself, 
and rending his own weak life. 

He drew nearer to Marsham, resting his forehead on 
the bed. The firelight threw the shadow of his gaunt 
kneeling figure on the white walls. And at last, after 
the struggle, there seemed to be an effluence a de- 
scending, invading love overflowing his own being 
[ 564 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

- enwrapping the sufferer before him silencing the 
clamour of a weeping world. And the dual mind of the 
modern, even in Lankester, wavered between the two 
explanations: 'It is myself/ said the critical intellect, 
'the intensification and projection of myself.' 'It is 
God !' replied the soul. 

Marsham, meanwhile, as the morning drew on, and 
as the veil of morphia between him and reality grew 
thinner, was aware of a dream slowly drifting into con- 
sciousness of an experience that grew more vivid 
as it progressed. Some one was in the room ; he moved 
uneasily, lifted his head, and saw indistinctly a figure 
in the shadows standing near the smouldering fire. It 
was not his servant ; and suddenly his dream mingled 
with what he saw, and his heart began to throb. 

'Ferrier!' he called, under his breath. The figure 
turned, but in his blindness and semi-consciousness he 
did not recognise it. 

'I want to speak to you/ he said, in the same 
guarded, half -whispered voice. 'Of course, I had no 
right to do it, but - 

His voice dropped and his eyelids closed. 

Lankester advanced from the fire. He saw Marsham 
was not really awake, and he dreaded to rouse him 
completely, lest it should only be to the consciousness 
of pain. He stooped over him gently, and spoke his 
name. 

'Yes/ said Marsham, murmuring, without opening 
his eyes. 'There's no need for you to rub it in. I be- 
haved like a beast, and Harrington ' 

The voice became inarticulate again. The prostra- 
tion and pallor of the speaker, the feebleness of the 
[ 565 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

tone nothing could have been more pitiful. An 
idea rushed upon Lankester. He again bent over the 
bed. 

'Don't think of it any more/ he said. 'It's for- 
gotten!' 

A slight and ghastly smile showed on Marsham's lip 
as he lay with closed eyes. ' Forgotten ! No, by Jove !' 
Then, after an uneasy movement, he said, in a stronger 
and irritable voice, which seemed to come from an- 
other region of consciousness : 

' It would have been better to have burnt the paper. 
One can't get away from the thing. It it disturbs 
me' 

'What paper?' said Lankester, close to the dream- 
er's ear. 

'The Herald,' said Marsham, impatiently. 

'Where is it?' 

'In that cabinet by the fire.' 

'Shall I burn it?' 

'Yes don't bother me!' Evidently he now 
thought he was speaking to his valet, and a moan of 
pain escaped him. Lankester walked over to the cabi- 
net and opened the top drawer. He saw a folded news- 
paper lying within it. After a moment's hesitation he 
lifted it, and perceived by the light of the night-lamp 
that it was the Herald of August 2 the famous num- 
ber issued on the morning of Ferrier's death. All the 
story of the communicated article and the ' Harrington 
letter' ran through his mind. He stood debating with 
himself, shaken by emotion. Then he deliberately took 
the paper to the fire, stirred the coals, and, tearing 
up the paper, burnt it piece by piece. 
[ 566 ] 




THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

After it was done he walked back to Marsham's side. 
'I have burnt the paper/ he said, kneeling down by 
him. 

Marsham, who was breathing lightly with occasional 
twitchings of the brow, took no notice. But after a 
minute he said, in a steady yet thrilling voice : 

'FerrierP 

Silence. 

'Ferrier!' The tone of the repeated word brought 
the moisture to Lankester's eyes. He took the dream- 
er's hand in his, pressing it. Marsham returned the 
pressure, first strongly, again more feebly. Then a 
wave of narcotic sleep returned upon him, and he 
seemed to sink into it profoundly. 

Next morning, as Marsham, after his dressing, was 
lying moody and exhausted on his pillows, he suddenly 
said to his servant : 

' I want something out of that cabinet by the fire/ 

' Yes, sir.' The man moved toward it obediently. 

'Find a newspaper in the top drawer, folded up 
small on the right-hand side/ 

Richard looked. 

' I am sorry, sir, but there is nothing in the drawer 
at all.' 

'Nonsense!' said Marsham, angrily. 'You've got 
the wrong drawer ! ' 

The whole cabinet was searched to no purpose. 
Marsham grew very pale. He must, of course, have 
destroyed the paper himself, and his illness had effaced 
his memory of the act, as of other things. Yet he could 
not shake off an impression of mystery. Twice now, 
[ 567 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

weeks after Ferrier's death, he seemed to have been in 
Ferrier's living presence, under conditions very unlike 
those of an ordinary dream. He could only remind 
himself how easily the brain plays tricks upon a man 
in his state. 

After breakfast, Sir James Chide was admitted. 
But Oliver was now in the state of obsession, when the 
whole being, already conscious of a certain degree of 
pain, dreads the approach of a much intenser form - 
hears it as the footfall of a beast of prey, drawing 
nearer room by room, and can think of nothing else but 
the suffering it foresees, and the narcotic which those 
about him deal out to him so grudgingly, rousing in 
him, the while^ a secret and silent fury. He answered 
Sir James in monosyllables, lying, dressed, upon his 
sofa, the neuralgic portion of the spine packed and 
cushioned from any possible friction, his forehead 
drawn and frowning. 

Sir James shrank from asking him about himself. 
But it was useless to talk of politics ; Oliver made no 
response, and was evidently no longer abreast even 
of the newspapers. 

'Does your man read you the Times?' asked Sir 
James, noticing that it lay unopened beside him. 

Oliver nodded. 'There was a dreadful being my 
mother found a fortnight ago. I got rid of him/ 

He evidently had not strength to be more explicit. 
But Sir James had heard from Lady Lucy of the fail- 
ure of her secretarial attempt. 

' I hear they talk of moving you for the winter/ 

'They talk of it. I shall oppose it.' 
[ 568 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' I hope not ! for Lady Lucy's sake. She is so 
hopeful about it, and she is not fit herself to spend the 
winter in England/ 

'My mother must go/ said Oliver, closing his eyes. 

' She will never leave you.' 

Marsham made no reply ; then, without unclosing his 
eyes again, he said, between his teeth : ' What is the 
use of going from one hell to another hell through 
a third which is the worst of all?' 

'You dread the journey?' said Sir James, gently. 
' But there are ways and means.' 

'No!' Oliver's voice was sudden and loud. 'There 
are none ! that make any difference/ 

Sir James was left perplexed, cudgelling his brains 
as to what to attempt next. It was Marsham, how- 
ever, who broke the silence. With his dimmed sight he 
looked, at last, intently, at his companion. 

'Is is Miss Mallory still at Beechcote?' 

Sir James moved involuntarily. 

'Yes, certainly/ 

'You see a great deal of her?' 

' I do I - 'Sir James cleared his throat a little 
' I look upon her as my adopted daughter/ 

' I should like to be remembered to her/ 

'You shall be,' said Sir James, rising. 'I will give 
her your message. Meanwhile, may I tell Lady Lucy 
that you feel a little easier this morning?' 

Oliver slowly and sombrely shook his head. Then, 
however, he made a visible effort. 

' But I want to see her. Will you tell her?' 

Lady Lucy, however, was already in the room. 
Probably she had heard the message from the open 
[ 569 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

doorway where she often hovered. Oliver held out his 
hand to her, and she stooped and kissed him. She 
asked him a few low-voiced questions, to which he 
mostly answered by a shake of the head. Then she 
attempted some ordinary conversation, during which 
it was very evident that the sick man wished to be left 
alone. 

She and Sir James retreated to her sitting-room, and 
there Lady Lucy, sitting helplessly by the fire, brushed 
away some tears of which she was only half-conscious. 
Sir James walked up and down, coming at last to a 
stop beside her. 

' It seems to me this is as much a moral as a physical 
breakdown. Can nothing be done to take him out of 
himself? give him fresh heart?' 

' We have tried everything suggested everything. 
But it seems impossible to rouse him to make an effort.' 

Sir James resumed his walk only to co'me to 
another stop. 

' Do you know that he just now sent a message 
by me to Miss Mallory?' 

Lady Lucy started. 

' Did he? ' she said, faintly, her eyes on the blaze. 

He came up to her. 

' There is a woman who would never have deserted 
you ! or him ! ' he said, in a burst of irrepressible feel- 
ing, which would out. 

Lady Lucy's glance met his silently, a little 
proudly. She said nothing and presently he took his 
leave. 

The day wore on. A misty sunshine enwrapped the 
[ 570 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

beech woods. The great trees stood marked here and 
there by the first fiery summons of the frost. Their 
supreme moment was approaching which would strike 
them, head to foot, into gold and amber, in a purple 
air. Lady Lucy took her drive amongst them as a duty, 
but between her and the enchanted woodland there 
was a gulf fixed. 

She paid a visit to Oliver, trembling, as she always 
did, lest some obscure catastrophe, of which she was 
ever vaguely in dread, should have developed. But 
she found him in a rather easier phase, with Lankester, 
who had just returned from town, reading aloud to him. 
She gave them tea, thinking, as she did so, of the noisy 
parties gathered so recently, during the election weeks, 
round the tea-tables in the hall. And then she re- 
turned to her own room to write some letters. 

She looked once more with distaste and weariness at 
the pile of letters and notes awaiting her. All the 
business of the house, the estate, the village she was 
getting an old woman; she was weary of it. And with 
sudden bitterness she remembered that she had a 
daughter, and that Isabel had never been a real day's 
help to her in her life. Where was she now? Cam- 
paigning in the North speaking at a bye-election - 
lecturing for the suffrage. Since the accident she had 
paid two flying visits to her mother and brother. Oli- 
ver had got no help from her nor her mother ; she 
was the Mrs. Jellyby of a more hypocritical day. Yet 
Lady Lucy in her youth had been a very motherly 
mother ; she could still recall in the depths of her being 
the thrill of baby palms pressed ' against the circle of 
the breast/ 

[ 571 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She sat down to her task, when the door opened be- 
hind her. A footman came in, saying something which 
she did not catch. 'My letters are not ready yet' - 
she threw over her shoulder, irritably, without looking 
at him. The door closed. But some one was still in the 
room. She turned sharply in astonishment. 

'May I disturb you, Lady Lucy?' said a tremulous 
voice. 

She saw a tall and slender woman, in black, bending 
toward her, with a willowy, appealing grace, and eyes 
that beseeched. Diana Mallory stood before her. 
There was a pause. Then Lady Lucy rose slowly, laid 
down her spectacles, and held out her hand. 

' It is very kind of you to come and see me/ she said, 
mechanically. 'Will you sit down?' 

Diana gazed at her, with the childish, short-sighted 
pucker of the brow that Lady Lucy remembered well. 
Then she came closer, still holding Lady Lucy's hand. 

'Sir James thought I might come,' she said, breath- 
lessly. ' Is n't there is n't there anything I might 
do? I wanted you to let me help you like a secre- 
tary won't you? Sir James thought you looked so 
tired and this big place ! I am sure there are 
things I might do and oh! it would make me so 
happy!' 

Now she had her two hands clasping, fondling Lady 
Lucy's. Her eyes shone with tears, her mouth trem- 
bled. 

'Oh, you must you must!' she cried, suddenly; 

'don't let's remember anything but that we were 

friends that you were so kind to me you and Mr. 

Oliver in the spring. I can't bear sitting there at 

[ 572 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

Beechcote doing nothing amusing myself when 
you and Mr. Oliver - 

She stopped, forcing back the tears that would drive 
their way up, studying in dismay the lined and dwin- 
dled face before her. Lady Lucy coloured deeply. Dur- 
ing the months which had elapsed since the broken 
engagement, she, even in her remote and hostile dis- 
tance, had become fully aware of the singular prestige, 
the homage of a whole district's admiration and ten- 
derness, which had gathered round Diana. She had 
resented the prestige and the homage, as telling against 
Oliver, unfairly. Yet as she looked at her visitor she 
felt the breath of their ascendency. Tender courage 
and self-control the woman, where the girl had been 
- a nature steadied and ennobled these facts and 
victories spoke from Diana's face, her touch ; they gave 
even something of maternity to her maiden youth. 

'You come to a sad house/ said Lady Lucy, holding 
her away a little. 

' I know/ The voice was quivering and sweet. ' But 
he will recover of course he'll recover!' 

Lady Lucy shook her head, 

'He seems to have no will to recover/ 

Then her limbs failed her. She sank into a chair by 
the fire, and there was Diana on a stool at her feet - 
timidly daring dropping soft caresses on the hand 
she held, drawing out the tragic history of the preced- 
ing weeks, bringing, indeed, to this sad and failing 
mother what she had perforce done without till now 
-that electric sympathy of women with each other 
which is the natural relief and sustenance of the sex. 

Lady Lucy forgot her letters forgot, in her mind- 
[ 573 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

weariness, all the agitating facts about this girl that 
she had once so vividly remembered. She had not the 
strength to battle and hold aloof. Who now could talk 
of marrying or giving in marriage? They met under a 
shadow of death ; the situation between them reduced 
to bare elemental things. 

'You'll stay and dine with me?' she said at last, 
feebly. 'We'll send you home. The carriages have 
nothing to do. And' --she straightened herself - 
' you must see Oliver. He will know that you are here/ 

Diana said nothing. Lady Lucy rose and left the 
room. Diana leant her head against the chair in 
which the older lady had been sitting, and covered her 
eyes. Her whole being was gathered into the moment 
of waiting. 

Lady Lucy returned and beckoned. Once more 
Diana found herself hurrying along the ugly, inter- 
minable corridors with which she had been so familiar 
in the spring. The house had never seemed to her so 
forlorn. They paused at an open door, guarded by a 
screen. 

'Go in, please/ said Lady Lucy, making room for 
her to pass. 

Diana entered, shaken with inward fear. She passed 
the screen, and there beyond it was an invalid couch - 
a man lying on it and a hand held out to her. 

That shrunken and wasted being the Oliver Mar- 
sham of two months before ! Her heart beat against 
her breast. Surely she was looking at the irreparable ! 
Her high courage wavered and sank. 

But Marsham did not perceive it. He saw, as in a 
[ 574 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

cloud, the lovely oval of the face, the fringed eyes, the 
bending form. 

'Will you sit down?' he said, hoarsely. 

She took a chair beside him, still holding his hand. 
It seemed as though she were struck dumb by what 
she saw. He inquired if she was at Beechcote. 

'Yes/ Her head drooped. 'But I want Lady Lucy 
to let me come and stay here a little/ 

'No one ought to stay here/ he said, abruptly, two 
spots of feverish colour appearing on his cheeks. ' Sir 
James would advise you not. So do I/ 

She looked up softly. 

'Your mother is so tired; she wants help. Won't 
you let me?' 

Their eyes met. His hand trembled violently in hers. 

'Why did you come?' he said, suddenly, breathing 
fast. 

She found no words, only tears. She had relin- 
quished his hand, but he stretched it out again and 
touched her bent head. 

'There's no time left/ he said, impatiently, 'to to 
fence in. Look here! I can't stand this pain many 
minutes more/ He moved with a stifled groan. 
'They'll give me morphia it's the only thing. But 
I want you to know. I was engaged to Alicia Drake - 
after we broke it off. And I never loved her not 
for a moment and she knew it. Then, as soon as this 
happened she left us. There was poetic justice, was n't 
it? Who can blame her? I don't. I want you to know 
- what sort of a fellow I am/ 

Diana had recovered her strength. She raised his 
hand, and leant her face upon it. 
[ 575 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

' Let me stay/ she repeated 'let me stay !' 

'No!' he said, with emphasis. 'You should only 
stay if I might tell you I am a miserable creature - 
but I love you ! And I may be a miserable creature 
in Chide's opinion everybody's. But I am not 
quite such a cur as that.' 

'Oliver!' She slipped to her knees. 'Oliver! don't 
send me away!' All her being spoke in the words. 
Her dark head sank upon his shoulder, he felt her fresh 
cheek against his. With a cry he pressed her to him. 

'I am dying and I I am weak,' he said, in- 
coherently. He raised her hand as it lay across his 
breast and kissed it. Then he dropped it despairingly. 
' The awful thing is that when the pain comes I care 
about nothing not even you nothing. And it's 
coming now. Go ! dearest. Good-night. To-mor- 
row ! Call my servant.' 

And as she fled she heard a sound of anguish that 
was like a sword in her own heart. 

His servant hurried to him : in the passage outside 
Diana found Lady Lucy. They went back to the sit- 
ting-room together. 

'The morphia will ease him,' said Lady Lucy, with 
painful composure, putting her arm round the girl's 
shoulders. 'Did he tell you he was dying?' 

Diana nodded, unable to speak. 

'It may be so. But the doctors don't agree.' Then 
with a manner that recalled old days : ' May I ask I 
don't know that I have the right what he said to 
you?' 

She had withdrawn her arm, and the two confronted 
each other. 

[ 576 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

'Perhaps you won't allow it/ said Diana, piteously. 
* He said I might only stay, if if he might tell me - 
he loved me/ 

'Allow it?' said Lady Lucy, vaguely 'allow it?' 

She fell into her chair, and Diana looked down upon 
her, hanging on the next word. 

Lady Lucy made various movements as though to 
speak, which came to nothing. 

' I have no one but him/ she said at last, with 
pathetic irrelevance. 'No one. Isabel ' 

Her voice failed her. Diana held out her hands, the 
tears running down her cheeks. ' Dear Lady Lucy, let 
me ! I am yours and Oliver's/ 

' It will, perhaps, be only a few weeks or months 
- and then he will be taken from us/ 

'But give me the right to those weeks. You 
would n't you would n't separate us now ! ' 

Lady Lucy suddenly broke down. Diana clung to 
her with tears, and in that hour she became as a daugh- 
ter to the woman who had sentenced her youth. Lady 
Lucy asked no pardon in words, to Diana's infinite 
relief ; but the surrender of weakness and sorrow was 
complete. 'Sir James will forbid it/ she said at last, 
when she had recovered her calm. 

'No one shall forbid it!' said Diana, rising with a 
smile. 'Now, may I answer some of those letters for 
you?' 

For some weeks after this Diana went backward and 

forward daily, or almost daily, between Beechcote and 

Tallyn. Then she migrated to Tallyn altogether, and 

Muriel Colwood with her. Before and after that migra- 

[ 577 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

tion Wisdom had been justified of her children in the 
person of the Doctor. Hugh Roughsedge's leave had 
been prolonged, owing to a slight but troublesome 
wound in the arm, of which he had made nothing on 
coming home. No wound could have been more oppor- 
tune more friendly to the Doctor's craving for a 
daughter-in-law. It kept the Captain at Beechcote, 
but it did not prevent him from coming over every 
Sunday to Tallyn to bring flowers or letters, or news 
from the village; and it was positively benefited by 
such mild exercise as a man may take, in company 
with a little round-eyed woman, feather-light and act- 
ive, yet in relation to Diana, like a tethered dove, 
that can only take short flights. Only here it was a 
tether self-imposed and of the heart. 

There was no direct wooing, however, and for weeks 
their talk was all of Diana. Then the Captain's arm 
got well, and Nigeria called. But Muriel would not 
have allowed him to say a word before departure 
had it not been for Diana and the Doctor who 
were suddenly found to have entered, in regard to 
this matter, upon a league and covenant not to be 
resisted. 

Whether the Doctor opened Diana's eyes need not be 
inquired ; it is certain that if, all the while, in Oliver's 
room, she and Lady Lucy had not been wrestling hour 
by hour with death or worse Diana would have 
wanted no one to open them. When she did under- 
stand, there was no opposing her. She pleaded to be 
given the happiness of knowing they were pledged, 
and her Muriel safe in harbour. So Roughsedge had 
his say; a quiet engagement began its course in the 
[ 578 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

world; Brookshire as yet knew nothing; and the Doc- 
tor triumphed over Patricia. 

During this time Sir James Chide watched the de- 
velopment of a situation he had not been able to 
change with a strange mixture of revolt and sympathy. 
Sometimes he looked beyond the tragedy which he 
thought inevitable to a recovered and normal life for 
Diana; sometimes he felt a dismal certainty that when 
Oliver had left her, that recovered life could only shape 
itself to ascetic and self-renouncing ends. Had she 
belonged to his own church, she would no doubt have 
become a 'religious'; and he would have felt it the nat- 
ural solution. Outside the Catholic Church, the same 
need takes shape he thought in forms less suited 
to a woman's weakness, less conducive to her dignity. 

All through he resented the sacrifice of a being so 
noble, true, and tender to a love, in his eyes, so unfit- 
ting and derogatory. Not all the pathos of suffering 
could blunt his sense of Marsham's inferiority, or make 
him think it 'worth while/ 

Then, looking deeper, he saw the mother in the 
child; and in Diana's devotion, mysterious influences, 
flowing from her mother's fate from the agony, the 
sin, the last tremulous hope, and piteous submission of 
Juliet Sparling. He perceived that in this broken, tort- 
ured happiness to which Diana had given herself, there 
was some sustaining or consoling element that nothing 
more normal or more earthly would have brought her; 
he guessed at spiritual currents and forces linking the 
dead with the living, and at a soul heroically calm 
among them, sending forth rays into the darkness. 
His religion, which was sincere, enabled him to under- 
[ 579 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

stand her; his affection, his infinite delicacy of feeling, 
helped her. 

Meanwhile, Diana and Lankester became the sus- 
taining angels of a stricken house. But not all their 
tenderness and their pity could, in the end, do much 
for the two sufferers they tried to comfort. In Oliver's 
case the spinal pain and disorganisation increased, the 
blindness also ; Lady Lucy became steadily feebler and 
more decrepit. At last all life was centred on one hope 
- the coming of a great French specialist, a disciple of 
Charcot's, recommended by the English Ambassador 
in Paris, who was an old friend and kinsman of Lady 
Lucy. 

But before he arrived, Diana took a resolution. She 
went very early one morning to see Sir James Chide. 
He was afterward closeted with Lady Lucy, and he 
went up to town the following day on Diana's busi- 
ness. The upshot of it all was that on the morning of 
New Year's Eve a marriage was celebrated in Oliver 
Marsham's room by the Rector of Tallyn and Mr. 
Lavery. It was a wedding which, to all who witnessed 
it, was among the most heart-rending experiences of 
life. Oliver, practically blind, could not see his bride, 
and only morphia enabled him to go through it. Mrs. 
Fotheringham was to have been present; but there 
was a feminist congress in Paris, and she was detained 
at the last moment. The French specialist came in 
the afternoon. He made a careful examination, but 
would give no decided opinion. He was to stay a week 
at Tallyn in order to watch the case, and he reserved 
his judgement. Meanwhile he gave certain directions 
as to local treatment, and he asked that a new drug 
[ 580 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

might be tried during the night instead of the second 
dose of morphia usually given. The hearts of all in 
charge of the invalid sank as they foresaw the inevit- 
able struggle. 

In the evening the new doctor paid a second visit to 
his patient. Diana saw him afterwards alone. He was 
evidently touched by the situation in the house, and, 
cautious as he was, allowed himself a few guarded sen- 
tences throwing light on the doubt which was in 
effect a hope in his own mind. 

'The emaciation, madame, the weakness, the nerve 
depression even if there were no organic disease 
are alone enough to threaten life. The morphia is, of 
course, a contributing cause. The question before us 
is: Have we here a case of irreparable disease caused 
by the blow, or a case of nervous shock producing 
all the symptoms of disease pain, blindness, emacia- 
tion but ultimately curable? That is what we have 
to solve/ 

Diana's eyes implored him. 

'Give him hope/ she said, with intensity. 'For 
weeks months he has never allowed himself a 
moment's hope/ 

The doctor reflected. 

'We will do what we can/ he said, slowly. 'Mean- 
while, cheerfulness! all the cheerfulness possible/ 

Diana's faint, obedient smile, as she rose to leave 
the room, touched him afresh. Just married, he un- 
derstood. These are the things that women do! 

As he opened the door for her he said, with some 
hesitation, 'You have, perhaps, heard of some of the 
curious effects that a railway collision produces. A 
[ 581 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

man who has been in a collision and received a blow 
suffers afterwards great pain, loss of walking power, 
impairment of vision, and so forth. The man's suffer- 
ing is real the man himself perfectly sincere his 
doctor diagnoses incurable injury the jury awards 
him damages. Yet, in a certain number of cases, 
the man recovers. Have we here an aggravated form 
of the same thing? Ah, madame, courage!' 

For in the doorway he saw her fall back against the 
lintel for support. The hope that he infused tested her 
physically more severely than the agonies of the pre- 
ceding weeks. But almost immediately she controlled 
herself, smiled at him again, and went. 

That night various changes were made at Tallyn. 
Diana's maid unpacked, in the room communicating 
with Marsham's ; and Diana, pale and composed, made 
a new arrangement with Oliver's male nurse. She 
was to take the nursing of the first part of the 
night, and he was to relieve her at three in the morn- 
ing. To her would fall the administration of the new 
medicine. 

At eleven o'clock all was still in the house. Diana 
opened the door of Oliver's room with a beating heart. 
She wore a dressing-gown of some white stuff; her 
black hair, released from the combs of the day, was 
loosely rolled up, and curled round her neck and tem- 
ples. She came in with a gentle, deliberate step ; it was 
but a few hours since the ceremony of the morning, 
but the transformation in her was instinctive and 
complete. To-night she was the wife alone with 
her husband. 

[ 582 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

She saw that he was not asleep, and she went and 
knelt down beside him. 

'Oliver, darling!' 

He passed his hand over her hair. 

' I have been waiting for you it is our wedding- 
night.' 

She hid her face against him. 

'Oh! you angel!' he murmured to her 'angel of 
consolation! When I am gone, say to yourself: "I 
drew him out of the pit, and helped him to die" ; say 
"he suffered, and I forgave him everything"; say 
"he was my husband, and I carried him on my heart 
so.'" 

He moved towards her. She put her arms under 
his head and drew him to her breast, stooping over 
him and kissing him. 

So the first part of the night went by, he very much 
under the influence of morphia, and not in pain ; mur- 
mured words passing at intervals between them, the 
outward signs of an inward and ineffable bond. Often, 
as she sat motionless beside him, the thought of her 
mother stirred in her heart father, mother, husband 
-close, close all of them 'closer than hands and 
feet' - - one with her and one with God. 

About two o'clock she gave him the new drug, he 
piteously consenting for her sake. Then in a mortal 
terror she resumed her place beside him. In a few 
minutes surely the pain, the leaping hungry pain would 
be upon him, and she must see him wrestle with it 
defenceless. She sat holding her breath, all existence 
gathered into fear. 

But the minutes passed. She felt the tension of his 
[ 583 ] 



THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY 

hand relax. He went to sleep so gently that in her 
infinite relief she too dropped into sleep, her head be- 
side his, the black hair mingling with the grey on the 
same pillow. 

The servant coming in, as he had been told, looked 
at them in astonishment, and stole away again. 

An hour or so later Oliver woke. 

' I have had no morphia, and I am not in pain. My 
God! what does it mean?' 

Trembling, he put out his hand. Yes ! Diana was 
there asleep in her chair. His wife! 

His touch roused her, and as she bent over him he 
saw her dimly in the dim light her black hair, her 
white dress. 

' You can bring that old French fellow here when- 
ever you like/ he said, holding her. Then, faintly, his 
eyes closed : ' This is New Year's Day/ 

Once more Diana's kisses fell ' on the tired heart like 
rain'; and when she left him he lay still, wrapped in 
a mist of thought which his weakness could not 
pierce. Presently he dropped again into sleep. 

Diana too slept, the sleep of a young exhaustion; 
and when she woke up, it was to find her being flooded 
with an upholding, enkindling joy, she knew not how 
or whence. She threw open the window to the frosty 
dawn, thinking of the year before and her first arrival 
at Beechcote. And there, in the eastern sky no 
radiant planet but a twinkling star, in an ethereal 
blue ; and from the valley below, dim joyous sounds 
of bells. 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S . A 



rrj_. 






PR Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 
5710 The writings of Mrs. Humphry 

1911 Ward 
v.U 



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